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Secretary Locke Kicks Off CODEL to Korea

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke.

This week, I’m visiting the Republic of Korea, one of the United States’ closest allies in the world, and one of our most important trading partners.  Last December, President Obama signed a landmark trade deal with Korea that could boost annual exports of American goods to Korea by up to $11 billion, supporting at least 70,000 U.S. jobs.

But the deal still needs to pass Congress, which is why this week, I’m leading four Members of Congress on a fact-finding mission that will demonstrate firsthand how this trade deal will lead directly to more sales of American goods and services abroad and more American jobs here at home.

Korean and U.S. businesses are already collaborating, innovating and trading together like never before.  This week, members of our bipartisan delegation – which includes Representatives Dave Reichert and Jim McDermott from my home state of Washington and Representatives Joseph Crowley and Charles Rangel from New York – are getting to see this up close.

Tomorrow, we visit Pantech, one of Korea’s largest mobile phone makers, and a major buyer of U.S. technology.  More than 60 percent of the production equipment at Pantech is made by U.S. companies, and you’ll find plenty of American-made components in their phones, like scratch resistant Gorilla Glass from Corning and microchips from Qualcomm. 

And on Friday, we’re going to Seoul National University Hospital to see a demonstration of Varian Medical Systems’ advanced radiotherapy technology. 

This equipment is manufactured in California and sold globally, and it’s helping Korean and American doctors fight cancer and save lives.

Both of these relationships – between Varian and Seoul Hospital and between Pantech and its American partners -- are going to be strengthened by the U.S.-Korea trade deal that reduces and eliminates tariffs and makes regulations and approval processes:

  • Faster;
  • More transparent; and
  • More predictable.

As soon as the Korea deal comes into effect, tariffs and other measures that restrict American producers’ access to this market will begin to fall. 

U.S. businesses, workers, and farmers will be selling more auto parts, crops and countless other goods to the 12th largest economy in the world – and that can add critical fuel to our economic recovery.

Under the U.S.-Korea trade pact:

  • Two out of every three dollars in U.S. agricultural export sales to South Korea will become duty free immediately;
  • Over 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products with South Korea would become duty free within five years, and most remaining tariffs would be eliminated within 10 years; and
  • South Korea’s $580 billion services market would be opened to American companies in sectors ranging from delivery and telecommunications services to education and health care services.

This deal also includes strong environmental and labor standards that will benefit workers in America as well as Korea.

The United States drove a tough bargain and got a great deal for American businesses and workers.  And that is critically important for our economy.  

America’s capacity to create jobs here at home will depend heavily on our ability to sell American goods and services – the best in the world – to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders. 

The U.S.-Korea trade deal is a big step in the right direction and I’m excited to see what the rest of this week holds for our delegation.

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