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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to Lead Five-Member Congressional Delegation to Korea

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Visit will highlight win-win trade benefits, push for swift approval of Korea trade agreement

On April 27-29, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will lead a congressional delegation to Korea to build support for the passage of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS).  The passage of KORUS is an important part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative and his vision for the United States to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build its global competition and win the future. 

“In completing KORUS, President Obama lived up to his commitment to achieve the best deal possible for American businesses and its workers.  It’s also a good deal for Korea as we strengthen our economic relationship.” Locke said. “On this trip, our delegation looks forward to gaining a first-hand understanding of how U.S. exports of goods and services will benefit from the market opening provisions of KORUS, which will translate into more jobs in America.”

The delegation consists of five members from the U.S. House of Representatives – Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rep. David Reichert (R-WA), and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) – and other Commerce Department officials.  On this fact-finding mission, these congressional members, four of whom sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade agreement approval, will have an opportunity to see first-hand how KORUS will help create jobs here at home and spur economic growth in both the U.S. and Korea.

During this visit, the delegation will be holding meetings with several high-level Korean officials and tour businesses to learn about how American firms would benefit from a closer U.S.-Korea trading relationship.  The information gathered on this trip will help delegation members effectively communicate the value and importance of KORUS to other congressional members and the American public.

KORUS is the United States’ most commercially significant trade agreement in more than 16 years.  Korea is the United States’ 7th largest trading partner, and U.S. goods exports to Korea through February 2011 jumped 10.9 percent compared to the same period in 2010.   According to U.S. International Trade Commission estimates, the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas under KORUS on goods alone would add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. GDP.  By expanding access to Korea, the 12th largest economy in the world, the agreement will support tens of thousands of American jobs, open Korea’s $580 billion services market to American companies, eliminate Korean tariffs on 95 percent of U.S. exports of industrial and consumer goods within five years, and immediately eliminate Korean tariffs on over two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports.