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Cutler stresses KORUS FTA as win-win deal for both sides

The acting deputy U.S. trade representative emphasized Monday that the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is a “true win-win for both countries,” as the two countries mark the third anniversary of the deal this month.

“I want to emphasize today, that this agreement has truly been win-win (for both countries). … The numbers tell a positive story for U.S. and for Korea,” Wendy Cutler said during an American Chamber of Commerce in Korea’s General Membership Meeting in Seoul.

Cutler, who served as chief U.S. negotiator for the KORUS FTA that concluded in March 2012, stressed how the implementation of the trade deal has helped boost bilateral trade and investment flows between the two countries.
Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler speaks during a general membership meeting of AMCHAM Korea in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler speaks during a general membership meeting of AMCHAM Korea in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

In 2014, U.S. goods and exports to Korea reached a record level of $44.5 billion, up over 7 percent compared to 2013, while manufacturing exports ranging from toys, sports equipment, ships and nuclear reactors reached a record $37.4 billion, up by nearly $3 billion from pre-FTA figures, Cutler said.

Cutler pointed out that Korea has gained much from the trade agreement in terms of boosting the nation’s manufacturing and agricultural sectors, as well as attracting investments and benefiting small and medium enterprises.

“Even in the agricultural sector that many in Korea feared would not survive after the KORUS FTA, we see Korean exports are up to the United States. For example, more Americans are able to enjoy Korean products such as pears, kimchi and red pepper paste, thanks to the KORUS FTA,” Cutler said.

“Korea’s services exports are up, investments are up, FDI to Korea is up as well. And Korea’s small and medium-sized enterprises are also benefiting from the KORUS FTA, and this is a really important area for Korean counterparts to make sure that not only the big companies but also the small companies partake in the gains from this agreement,” she added.

Meanwhile, Cutler urged both parties to more swiftly address some of the implementation issues that the FTA has been struggling with over the last three years, particularly those regarding customs, automotive and financial services sectors.

“Finding solutions to some of these issues has taken too long and has led some of the strongest supporters of the FTA in the United States to question Korea’s commitment to the full implementation of this agreement,” the trade representative said.

“I am hopeful that this will change in the coming years, particularly as the ministries in Korea become more and more familiar with the KORUS obligations and also as it becomes apparent that Korea stands to gain tremendously from the implementation of its obligations,” she said.

Cutler, who was speaking at the Monday AMCHAM meeting days after negotiating key terms in the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan, also welcomed South Korea’s interest and possible entry into the TPP.

“From the U.S. point of view, Korea’s membership will meaningfully contribute to the value of TPP and increase benefits for other parties. And looking forward, we are encouraged by the fact that Korea has already taken on high standard commitments in KORUS and other FTAs and that Korea and the U.S. already share common issues covered in the TPP.”

By Sohn Ji-young (
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Korea Herald daum