South Korea Free Trade Deal Still Pending

South Korea Free Trade Deal Still Pending

Obama says auto and beef trade issues must be resolved.

President Barack Obama says existing trade barriers must be cleared before he'll submit to Congress the pending free trade deal with South Korea. But National Cattlemen's Beef Association Chief Economist Gregg Doud says it's time for Congress to vote.


President Obama at a joint White House press conference with South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak said he's committed to moving forward on the Korea trade deal but won't decide on the political timing to submit it to Congress until issues including autos and beef are resolved. Doud says most of Korea's restrictions on U.S. beef have ended.


"The beef issue, even though we have some unfinished business, I don't think that should be an impediment to ratifying the free trade agreement certainly," Doud said. "There are issues on automobiles that both sides seem to still be discussing but we do have a deal in place."


Doud says it's time for Congress to bring the Korea deal to an up or down vote. He says the trade deal could boost U.S. beef sales to Korea significantly.


"The agreement says that over the next 15 years once the agreement is ratified and enters into force, the 40% tariff that Korea charges on all beef imports today from the United States will be reduced over a 15 year period in equal increments," said Doud.

U.S. beef has recovered only about one-third of its $800 million pre-BSE sales in Korea, but according to Doud could have recouped a lot more if not for the tariff and an unfavorable currency exchange rate with Korea right now.

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