USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a media conference call to highlight the benefits to U.S. agriculture of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS) now pending before Congress. It is expected that, once ratified by Congress, the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement will expand U.S. farm exports to South Korea by $1.8 billion, support thousands of new jobs here at home, and help to position U.S. agriculture ahead of its competitors in the lucrative Asian marketplace.

"The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement represents an historic opportunity to increase exports, support job creation, and bolster the American economy, as well as strengthen a vital strategic alliance in the Asia-Pacific," said Vilsack. "KORUS is a win not just for America's farmers and ranchers, but for millions of Americans who depend on the farm economy for jobs and wages. Congress must move swiftly to ratify the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, because if we do not act quickly and decisively, America's competitors will secure their own trade deals with Korea, and our competitors' products will achieve an advantage at the expense of American productivity."

The United States provided almost 30 percent of Korea's total agricultural imports in 2010. In fiscal year 2010, U.S. agricultural exports to Korea totaled nearly $5 billion, making Korea the fifth largest export market for U.S. farm products. In 2010, President Obama laid out a challenge to all sectors of the economy with his National Export Initiative (NEI), a program intended to coordinate federal efforts to double U.S. exports and create two million new jobs by 2014.”

In just over a decade, the U.S. share of Korea's import market for goods has fallen from 21 percent to 9 percent. Meanwhile, Asian countries are securing their own preferential trade agreements that exclude the United States.

Source: USDA