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U.S. seeks free trade agreement with South Korea

Posted: 06 Feb 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Dylan McGrath? free trade? tariff?

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced last week (Feb. 2) the initiation of negotiations with South Korea on a free trade agreement that would remove tariffs and other trade barriers between the countries.

The negotiations will begin after the expiration of a 90-day consultation period, according to Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), a U.S. government agency.

The agency said South Korea is a valuable partner in ongoing global trade negotiations, commonly known as the Doha Development Agenda. Trade between the United States and Korea was valued at about $72 billion in 2005, according to the agency.

"Removing trade and investment barriers between our two nations through an FTA will increase market access for our farmers, ranchers, workers and businesses to the dynamic and growing Korean economy, boosting trade in goods and services," Portman said. He called the negotiation the most significant free trade negotiation that the United States has embarked on in 15 years.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) issued a statement applauding Portman for initiating talks with South Korea on a free trade agreement.

SIA President George Scalise said the Korean semiconductor market, worth approximately $4.5 billion in 2005, is a significant one for American semiconductors. He said estimates show that growth in the Korean semiconductor market will outpace growth in the rest of the world over the next four years.

"U.S. semiconductor producers are the most competitive in the world," Scalise said. "When SIA's members are allowed to compete unencumbered by barriers to trade, they succeed."

The SIA said free trade agreements can address a number of areas that are of importance to the U.S. semiconductor industry, including tariffs and other trade barriers, standards, customs procedures, transparency, intellectual property protection and targeted support for specific industries.

Portman said Korea is the world's 10th largest economy, with an annual gross domestic product rapidly approaching $1 trillion, and the seventh largest export market for the United States.

Major U.S. exports to Korea include agricultural products, aircraft, machinery, and organic chemicals, the USTR said, while major imports from Korea include cars, telecommunications equipment and electrical machinery.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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