Key officials gather to explain best use of the trade agreement for SMEs to expand bilateral trade
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) and the American Chamber of Commerce Korea jointly held the KOR-US FTA Utilization Seminar at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul on May 3. The event was attended by over 400 key leaders from both sides including Vice Minister Kim Dong-yon of the MOSF and Chairman Han Duck-soo of the Korea International Trade Association on the Korean side, while the U.S. side was represented by Wendy Cutler, the assistant U.S. Trade Representative and chief U.S. Representative of the Korea-U.S. FTA, Chairman Pat Gaines of Amcham-Korea and President of Boeing Korea, Jay Eizenstat, senior attorney at McDermott Will & Emery, and President Chae Eun-mi of FedEx Korea, among others.
One of the key purposes of the event was to provide information on changing trade conditions between Korea and the United States since the KORUS FTA went into force in March to Korean SME exporters and search for means to expand the utilization of the KORUS FTA to the maximum possible, the MOSF said.
Vice Minister Kim, in his keynote speech, stressed that the KORUS FTA will provide a crucial opportunity for both countries to further solidify their close relations as first-class countries in leading global values, not limited to expanding the two partners’ economic prosperity.
By maximizing the utilization of the FTA, the two countries should be able to increase the creation of jobs in their respective countries, and expand the benefits to consumers, upgrading the economies of the two partners a step.
The vice minister urged all those concerned to have strong intentions to increase exports and also search for growth engines in the process of implementing the KORUS FTA and make full use of their capacities to achieve these important goals.
The government will help the SME exporters take full advantage of the FTA by providing consultations and nurturing trade experts, among the diverse policies designed to support them.
The seminar has been useful in that it helped businesses in both Korea and the United States understand the KORUS FTA as an occasion to expand trade, generate maximum profits, and create jobs, thus attracting more investments and spurring domestic markets at the same time.
The seminar was also designed to give firms in both countries a clearer understanding of the FTA in such areas as country of origin regulations, opening of the service industry, and intellectual property rights.
Deputy Minister Kim Ik-joo of the Office of Policy Coordination for Trade Agreements of the MOSF said with the KOR-US FTA in force since March 15, Korea’s international trade territory expanded to the 57-percent level of the global economic scale. “It is having a positive effect in a wide area of our economy, including economic growth, employment, trade balance, and foreign investment, among others,” Kim said.
In the long-term perspective, it will boost GDP growth by 5.66 percent on average annually, create 350,000 jobs, result in an average annual trade surplus of $2.72 billion, and from $2.3 billion to $3.2 billion in foreign direct investments, the deputy minister said in a recent interview with local media.
The KOR-US FTA has been very good to consumers and the people in general, although nothing spectacular has been shown as of yet, some say. It’s been only three months since the trade instrument went into effect and it is too early to assess its advantages yet. First of all, since its enforcement, the prices of foodstuffs went down. For example, the price of pork rose 18 percent in April and May, but the prices of the same pork imported from the United States fell 9 percent to 1,000 won per kun from 1,100 won per kun. The import tariff of U.S. oranges fell 20 percent, leading to a 29 percent increase in imports of U.S. oranges.