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Korea-U.S. FTA boosts bilateral trade in 2014

Bilateral trade between South Korea and the United States jumped nearly 12 percent from a year earlier last year, partly demonstrating the intended effect of a free trade agreement (FTA) enacted three years ago, the Seoul government said Thursday.

In 2014, total trade volume between the two countries came to $115.6 billion, up 11.6 percent from $103.6 billion in 2013, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

South Korea's exports to the United States spiked 13.3 percent on-year to $70.3 billion in 2014, accounting for 12.3 percent of the country's overall exports in that year.

The rise in shipments to the United States also contributed to a 2.3 percent gain in the country's overall outbound shipments in 2014.

"The Korea-U.S. FTA is a high-level FTA, which helped secure a strong foothold for the country's exports to the world's largest market," the ministry said in a press release.

The bilateral free trade pact is proving to be equally beneficial to the United States, according to the ministry.

Imports from the United States surged 9.1 percent on-year to $45.3 billion in 2014, compared with a 1.9 percent increase in South Korea's overall imports last year, the ministry said.

The Korea-U.S. FTA was implemented three years ago on Sunday.

The free trade pact had faced strong public opposition here as it was feared the agreement would allow cheap U.S. agricultural products to encroach on the local market.

In 2014, U.S. shipments of agricultural and fisheries products to South Korea spiked 30.2 percent on-year to some $8.05 billion.

Such an increase, however, comes mostly from what the ministry called a base effect as U.S. shipments to the country had plunged 15.36 percent on-year to $6.79 billion in 2012 and again to $6.18 billion in 2013.

From $8.03 billion in 2011, before the Korea-U.S. FTA went into effect, U.S. shipments of agricultural and fisheries products to South Korea only gained about 0.25 percent.

On the other hand, South Korea's agricultural and fisheries exports to the U.S. have jumped 30.9 percent from $612 million in 2011 to $801 million in 2014.

The Korea-U.S. FTA also helped boost U.S. investment in the country.

In 2014, foreign direct investment (FDI) from the United States to South Korea came to $3.61 billion, marking a 2.4 percent on-year increase while accounting for 19 percent of the total FDI here, the ministry said. (Yonhap)

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