S. Korea deal would end pork and beef tariffs

US - A trade agreement between the United States and South Korea would eventually eliminate tariffs on American beef and pork exports, two products important to Iowa producers.
calendar icon 3 April 2007
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However, until South Korea lifts restrictions on imports of U.S. beef it will be impossible to get congressional approval for the deal, lawmakers said Monday.

“The political reality in Congress is that no matter the benefits, this agreement is dead on arrival until the beef issues get resolved,” said Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which handles trade legislation.

The deal, reached in Seoul, requires approval by lawmakers in both countries. It is the United States’ biggest trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1993, and is expected to lead to more than 90percent of U.S. exports to South Korea being duty free within three years.

The Bush administration intends to submit the legislation to Congress for approval under its “fast-track” authority, which imposes timelines on Congress to vote and requires up-or-down votes without amendment.

The deal joins three other free-trade agreements — with Colombia and Panama and Peru — that the administration negotiated and that now confront a Congress wary of lowering barriers following record trade deficits and lost manufacturing jobs.

The U.S. trade office and business groups counter that the agreement would be a boon for U.S. companies, especially for financial services firms that have long found it difficult to get approval to operate in Korea.

Farm groups expressed opposition because of continued restrictions on beef imports. A fully open South Korean market for U.S. beef would be worth about $1 billion a year, according to Greg Doud, chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Source: DesMoinesRegister.com

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