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Beef groups sing praises of new KORUS trade deal

Progressive Cattleman Associate Editor Carrie Veselka Published on 28 September 2018

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a signing ceremony Sept. 24, officially sealing a new U.S.-South Korea trade deal.

Negotiations for this deal began in July 2017. Trump has praised Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow for their work in bringing the agreement to a successful outcome.

The new agreement should help reduce the U.S.-South Korea trade deficit and give American products better access to Korean markets. "I think our farmers are going to be extremely happy,” said Trump in a CNN report. “It was very limited as to what they could do and what they could send, and now it's a open market and they're going to be sending a lot more farm products. Makes me feel very good; I love our farmers."

The new trade deal has been received with optimism by U.S. beef industry groups. United States Cattlemen’s Association President Kenny Graner said in a statement that the U.S. sent $7.27 billion of beef to South Korea in 2017, making the U.S. the largest beef supplier for the country. “The revised KORUS trade agreement, with a reduced and eventually eliminated tariff schedule for beef, represents the administration’s dedication to securing fair trade agreements that put domestic producers first," he said.

Kent Bacus, director of international trade and market access for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, said in a Beltway Beef podcast that the new deal left U.S. beef in a good position for the South Korean market. “We are excited about that because, essentially, it left the terms for agriculture in place, and for the U.S. beef industry, that’s exactly what we want.” He said that since the first KORUS agreement was signed, the U.S. has had a roughly 8 percent tariff rate advantage compared to other exporter countries like Australia, giving the U.S. “competitive advantage” in the meat market. “We’ve essentially squeezed the Australians out, and that’s good news,” said Bacus. “Not only has Korea become a $1 billion market for us, we’re now starting to see big stores like Costco replace all of their Australian-sourced fresh beef with U.S. beef, and that means that U.S. producers are going to find even more value in the Korean market.”

Other big components of the trade deal include better market access for U.S. automobiles (an increase from 25,000 to 50,000 per manufacturer per year), pharmaceuticals and other agricultural products.  end mark

Carrie Veselka
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