‘Korea-U.S. FTA will take economic ties to higher level’

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 11, 2012 - 15:41
  • Updated : Jan 11, 2012 - 18:18
A top U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, which is set to take effect soon, will further enhance economic relations between the two allies.

“In this Korea-U.S. FTA, it’s a gold standard agreement, we already have a strong economic relationship, we got a great security relationship, a strong political friendship, but it takes the economic relationship to the next level,” said Tami Overby, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It is projected that the deal will add an estimated $10-12 billion in two-way trade and promote job growth while expanding market access to companies by eliminating 95 percent of bilateral tariffs within the first three years on both sides of the Pacific.

The agreement resolves many of the challenges currently thwarting the full economic potential of Korea-U.S. bilateral trade.

And Overby disagrees with the ongoing argument that many jobs will be lost due to the pact.

“This agreement will create jobs in both countries because it’s going to open up trade opportunities,” she said during a one-day visit to Seoul on Monday.
Tami Overby, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)

The International Trade Commission estimated that with $10-12 billion in fresh and new exports, more jobs will be created in both nations.

The U.S. chamber along with Korean Ambassador to Washington Han Duk-soo are about to start their second phase in promoting the accord by visiting small- and medium-sized companies in the United States to explain the advantages the deal entails.

“We will travel the U.S. helping companies take advantage of the new deal, making sure they understand what are the opportunities, how to use the FTA, what does it mean and highlighting success stories,” she said.

As soon as the pact goes into force, there will be companies taking advantage of it the first day because of the decrease in tariffs; within three years 95 percent of tariffs will go to zero.

“Korea was already a good partner, they are the United States’ seventh-largest trading partner, over $85 billion in two-way trade. At that time, before the middle of October, we only had 17 FTAs, only two in Asia, none in Northeast Asia,” she said.

During her visit, the biggest concern Overby has heard from her Korean counterparts has to do with the continued global economic difficulties and the challenges being posted in the European Union.

“The good news is in the U.S., we are seeing some positive signs, unemployment numbers of falling. This trade agreement will further help boost our economic growth, but about the FTA, I’m talking to (Korean) business people, a few (Korean) government officials, everyone is very excited,” she said.

To make sure business is growing on a positive note, the U.S. chamber will re-interview companies they originally spoke to in their “Faces of Trade” publication three months after the deal comes into force to make sure that trade is growing as expected.

“I expect, just like the EU found out, we’re going to see some good numbers quickly,” she said.

By Yoav Cerralbo (