Last week, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) submitted comments on the importance of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) to the U.S. pork industry. The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Trade last week held a hearing to examine the first two years of KORUS, which entered into force March 15, 2012. South Korea is fifth largest overseas market for U.S. pork, with sales valued at $284 million in 2013. In its written testimony to the subcommittee, NPPC said KORUS provides the kind of access opportunities for U.S. pork that the organization would like to see in all U.S. FTAs. South Korean import duties on most U.S. pork cuts of commercial significance were lowered to zero Jan. 1, 2014. Import duties on all U.S. pork products are eliminated over a short timeframe. Safeguards are applied to a very small number of commercially insignificant pork tariff lines, and where they exist, they are phased out over a short time. KORUS, NPPC pointed out, set the stage for the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations by demonstrating to other Asian countries that they can obtain open access to the U.S. market if they are willing to provide the same kind of duty-free market access opportunities to the United States. South Korean tariff commitments on pork under the KORUS are in stark contrast to the position Japan has taken in the TPP negotiations. It is demanding special treatment for five “sensitive” agriculture products, including pork. Allowing Japan to maintain duties on agriculture products in the TPP would not only seriously damage U.S. trading prospects with Japan, said NPPC, it would severely compromise the ability of the United States to seek duty elimination in all other current and future FTA negotiations.