Korea-U.S. FTA Marks One Year Anniversary
This manufacturing company exports its products to many countries, including the U.S..
Its CEO says the free trade deal with the U.S. has definitely produced new opportunities for his company.
"More foreign buyers have shown interest in our company since the Korea-U.S. free trade deal went into effect. We expect a sales increase of around 100-thousand dollars this year."
The industries that have benefited the most from the bilateral trade deal of Korea and the United States that went into effect last March are the auto parts, petroleum products and machineries industries.
The auto parts industry saw exports to the U.S. rise over 25-percent since the trade pact went into effect from the same period a year earlier.
Petroleum products exports have also risen more than 30 percent, while machineries exports have gone up by almost 15 percent.
The rise of exports in certain industries, coupled with drop in imports of American products, gave Korea a trade surplus of almost 15 billion dollars, an increase of 44 percent.
Experts say the bilateral trade pact with the U.S. served as a buffer against an overall drop in overseas demand.
"Korea's trade volume amounted to over one-trillion dollars last year for the second straight year due in part to the sharp rise in exports to the U.S., despite the global economic slump prompted by major economies such as the countries in Europe, which are seeing slow growth."
The sentiment however, doesn't seem to be echoed by the average consumers in Korea as tariff cuts in the trade pact didn't kick in right away on products that consumers normally buy.
On average, it takes at least 10 years for tariffs to be lifted on products like pork, cheese and beer.
"But consumers are able to enjoy a greater selection of fruit imports from the U.S.. In particular, imports of cherries and oranges jumped by over 30 percent last year after the FTA went into effect."
As Korea enters the second year of the trade pact with the United States, the current ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Kim Jong-hoon, who was the chief negotiator for Korea in the FTA talks with the United States, says Korean companies have to use the deal to their advantage.
He adds that the government should spread information to Korean businesses, and especially small-and medium-sized ones, on the country-of-origin labeling rules.
"I think we'll rather focus on small and medium sized businesses, because sometimes they feel difficulties obtaining pertinent information. And even, we have to look for ways to build up their capacity, to comply with the elements of the agreement, particularly to match the requirements of rules of origin."
What all experts and officials from both governments agree on is that it's only been a year since the free trade deal between Korea and the U.S. went into effect and that it is premature to draw a definitive conclusion about the bilateral trade pact.
Hwang Ji-hye, Arirang News.
Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org