Han Duk-soo, the South Korean ambassador to the United States, toured North Carolina this week to promote the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. Tuesday, the ambassador toured a hog farm in Benson and met with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and N.C. commodity leaders to discuss the positive impact the trade agreement could have on N.C. ag exports. Leaders from the pork, poultry, soybean, tobacco and sweet potato industries were represented at the meeting. Tami Overby, vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and John Brewer, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, were also present.
If Congress ratifies the agreement, North Carolina farmers would benefit from the removal of tariffs on agricultural products, which are now 40 percent or higher on some commodities. Under the pact, tariffs for many agricultural products such as cotton, soybeans and wheat would be removed immediately. Tariffs on other ag products would be eliminated over 15 years.
North Carolina exported more than $606 million in goods to South Korea in 2010. The republic is currently North Carolina’s 11th largest export market. The U.S. provides 30 percent of Korea’s total agricultural imports, accounting for nearly $5 billion.
More information about the free trade agreement is available on the U.S. Trade Representative’s website.