Barack Obama traveled to Seoul, South Korea Nov. 10-12 to participate in the
G-20 Summit, a meeting of leaders from the world's top 20 economies. While in
South Korea, President Obama hoped to meet with that country's president Lee
Myng-bak, to resolve differences in the U.S./South Korea Free Trade Agreement;
the prime issues are automobiles and beef.
Schlecht, director of policy for the U.S. Wheat Associates, says finalizing the
South Korea agreement, will be a critical success story for the Obama
Administration. The U.S. Wheat Associates has closely monitored the progress of
this deal, not for its impact on wheat, but for what it tells the rest of the
signal it would send to the rest of the world, that the U.S. is serious about
trade, is critical for other issues to move forward," Schlecht says.
U.S. and South Korea signed a free trade agreement in June, 2007, but
implementation has been stalled in part due to South Korea's unwillingness to
import U.S. beef cattle older than 30 months of age, plus a stalemate over the
number of U.S. automobiles sold to South Korean consumers.
trade with other nations was intended to be a focal point of the Obama
Administration in 2010. While several pending U.S. agreements have stalled,
other nations have worked on agreements of their own. With South Korea, for
example, in October the European Union signed a free trade agreement, which
should be implemented in July, 2011. Australia finished a round of talks in May;
meanwhile, Canada also is negotiating its own deal with South Korea.
U.S. does have pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. Close
proximity to the U.S. and increasing demand for high-quality Hard Red Winter
wheat could bring about big benefits to U.S. wheat producers if agreements with
Colombia and Panama could be finalized.
to preferences acts we already have in place with Columbia and Panama, 95% of
the goods from those countries are already entering the U.S. duty free. So these
free trade agreements really provide a benefit for U.S. exports and will help
our manufacturing and agriculture industries export goods at a more competitive
price to these countries," Schlecht says.
European Union has signed agreements with both countries; Canada has a pending
agreement with Colombia that could be finished in December.
Trade Representatives, however, are working on a timeline to get the deals with
Colombia and Panama completed in 2011.