Saturday, March 31, 2007

South Korea, US Trade Talks Still Not Completed

Sources: US Says S Korea Talks 'Not Going Well,' Agricultural Obstacle to US, Korea Trade Deal

Following almost a year of negotiations, South Korea and the U.S. were still unable to reach a successful compromise on almost all of the areas of the enormous bilateral trade agreement. The trade agreement would be the largest that the U.S. has entered into since the Nafta Accord with Canada and Mexico. Both countries aim to increase trade between them by up to $20 billion per year.

One area that has been particularly prickly involves U.S. beef imports to South Korea. Since the outbreak of mad cow disease in 2003, South Korea has imposed a 40% tariff on beef imports, which hit the U.S. hard since American beef had previously made up almost 70% of the beef imported into Korea. South Korea refuses to decrease the tariff until the U.S. is granted a "controlled risk country" classification by the World Organization for Animal Health. The WOAH is expected to re-classify the U.S. as such in May. Several other areas remain disputed, such as textiles, labor, the environment, financial services, autos, and other trade services.

Question: What may be the largest benefits to both the U.S. and South Korea if they are successful in this bilateral trade agreement?

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