Korea - U.S. Free Trade Agreement

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The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (also known as KORUS FTA) is a trade agreement between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Negotiations were announced on February 2, 2006 and were concluded on April 1, 2007. The successful completion of the agreement was announced on April 2, 2007. It has been reported that this agreement would be the second largest trade agreement ever for the United States, after NAFTA.




To date, agreements have been reached on the restriction of trade based upon intellectual property rights, particularly for automobiles and pharmaceuticals. Issues up for discussion include the importation of U.S. beef, standards in the automotive industry and automotive emissions, and movie screen quotas. The U.S. has indicated that it does not want to import goods from the Kaesŏng Industrial Region in North Korea as a part of this agreement.


Agriculture in South Korea is expected to be adversely affected, and $119 billion in aid to South Korean farmers has been announced over the next ten years to offset the effects of the finalized agreement. Rice is said to be excluded from free trade.[1]

The free trade agreement is expected to increase the growth rate of the South Korean GDP by 0.6% per year for the next 10 years. The South Korean government also cite increased foreign direct investment in Korea, heightened competition, as well as lower consumer prices as reasons for approving the agreement.


The agreement faced stiff opposition in the U.S. Congress, where many members objected to a Korean ban on U.S. beef imposed in 2003. However, in April 2008 Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced that the suspension of beef imports would be lifted. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) have expressed opposition to the agreement, indicating at least some resistance to ratification in Congress.[2]

Meanwhile, Lee Myung-bak is seeking ratification from the Korean parliament as well. The leader hopes Korean approval will impact U.S. legislators. [2]

Korean public reaction

Some South Koreans have protested against the pending treaty at different times. A nation-wide protest on November 22, 2006 was reported to have drawn 65,000 to 80,000 people, with 9,000 to 20,000 of them gathering at the city hall in Seoul. A few protesters, such as Heo Se-uk, made headlines by setting themselves on fire. The overall opinion of the population has fluctuated over time and is difficult to gauge. One poll in April 2007 indicated support for the Free Trade Agreement at 58.5%.[3] Other polls indicated a majority opposed to the agreement, including an 83% no confidence rating in the government's ability to negotiate the agreement.[4]

Articles and resources

See also


  1. "The U.S. and South Korea reach agreement on a trade deal", AgWeb.com, April 2, 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 Choe Sang-Hun, "South Korea Will Lift Its Ban on American Beef", The New York Times, April 19, 2008
  3. "Three in Five Koreans Support FTA: Poll", The Chosun Ilbo, Apr. 4, 2007
  4. Thomas Kim, "Democracy loses in Korea trade pact", The San Diego Union-Tribune, April 3, 2007

External links

Wikipedia also has an article on Korea - U.S. Free Trade Agreement. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.