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Tracing a Path Out of a Costly Trade Dispute

When we shop for items like orange juice at the grocery store, we often take for granted what goes on behind the scenes before we can enjoy these quality foods. Our nation’s producers and processors do not take it for granted. These products represent their livelihood, and the ability to reach new customers—especially through the export market—is critical to their businesses’ success. Recently, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) helped four businesses from Florida avert a costly 54% tariff, enabling them to continue to export frozen concentrated orange juice duty free to South Korea.

The US – Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) exempts U.S. orange juice from a 54% tariff when exported to Korea. However, in March 2013 Korean officials questioned the domestic origin of orange juice exported from the Sunshine State to the East Asian country. Without proof that the juice came from the U.S., exporters faced the costly tariff and the volume of exports to South Korea decreased. It was a huge loss for the Florida citrus industry which creates 76,000 jobs and pumps $9 billion into its local economy.

New Website Showcases the Opportunities of U.S.-Korea FTA

The USDA Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Seoul recently launched a Web page to showcase potential opportunities to be created by the soon-to-be-implemented U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS). KORUS will take effect on March 15, 2012.

The Foreign Agricultural Service recommends that U.S. agricultural exporters and those interested in expanding sales to international markets visit the page, called What U.S. Exporters Need to Know about the KORUS Agreement, to learn about the agreement, understand new tariff schedules, and gain valuable information about the fifth-largest market for U.S. farm products.

U.S. Foods and Beverages Attract Crowds at Korea Trade Show as United States Pushes U.S.-Korea Trade Agreements

Approximately 40 U.S. food companies from every region of the United States set up shop last week at the annual Seoul Food and Hotel 2011 Trade Show, the largest food show in Korea. This year, excitement in the U.S. pavilion was particularly high as the United States recently concluded negotiations with South Korea on the pending U.S.-Korea trade agreement (KORUS), which will provide American agriculture with improved access to Korea’s $1 trillion economy.

The United States is already Korea’s top supplier of a broad variety of food and farm products. U.S. agriculture, fish and forestry exports to Korea totaled $5.8 billion in 2010, making Korea the fifth largest export market for U.S. farm products. Under the KORUS, American products will become significantly more affordable for Korea’s 49 million consumers, since the trade agreement will eliminate most of Korea’s tariffs (taxes on imports).

Sharing the Benefits of KORUS in North Carolina

This week, I traveled to North Carolina and partnered with Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others in support of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement or KORUS.

The Obama Administration recognizes that exports are vital to the health of the agricultural sector and our nation’s economy as a whole. That’s why we’re working hard to ensure passage of the KORUS agreement, as well as the pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

St. Louis Riverfront Is Front Row for Surging U.S. Ag Exports

I spent yesterday in St. Louis, talking about the importance of trade and smart trade deals to America’s rebounding economy. Within 500 miles of St. Louis, farmers are producing more than three quarters of the nation’s corn and soybean crops, injecting $75 billion into the global economy, supporting 265,000 jobs, and producing $131 billion in crops and livestock. Meanwhile, the Mississippi River moves about 500 million tons of cargo each year, including 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports, accounting for $8.5 billion in exports. USDA recently reported that grain barge traffic around St. Louis is up 126 percent over last year, underscoring the importance of St. Louis to the national economy as a hub for U.S. farm exports. As the heart of the nation’s farm economy, St. Louis is pumping life into the overall economy.