The effort to advance the U.S. Korea Free-Trade-Agreement is taking on a distinctly personal slant. A South Korean official visited a North Carolina pork producer to see for himself how he might aid in the cumbersome FTA approval process.
South Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo is eager to see the pork from John Langdon's farm wind up on plates in his home country, according to newsobserver.com.
The FTA-in-waiting will take legislation from Congress, though, and Han is taking his lobbying efforts directly to the Americans who could benefit.
The soft-spoken diplomat and former prime minister is traveling across the United States touting the U.S.-Korea FTA, which would reduce tariffs and open Korean markets to American agriculture and other products. On Tuesday, Han toured the Langdon family's farm. He spent the morning riding around with Langdon, quizzing the third-generation farmer about how he raises pigs.
"It's very scientific and environmentally friendly," Han said as hogs squealed in the barn behind him. "I think there will be much more demand from Korea."
Proponents of the treaty say it will open up South Korea's 49 million consumers to U.S. exports, including pork. Deborah Johnson of the N.C. Pork Council expects the treaty will increase profits by $10 per pig, because Korea now has tariffs of up to 49 percent. If the treaty fails in Congress, Johnson said, American pork producers won't be selling there in the future. "We can't lose international markets like the Korean market," she said.