DENVER – The revised Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) was signed Sept. 24 by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump. During the signing ceremony, President Trump expressed his gratitude to South Korean President Moon and his team for their efforts and called the agreement “…a historic milestone in trade — something that most people thought was not going to be happening.”

President Trump went on to say, “The new US-Korea agreement includes significant improvements to reduce our trade deficit and to expand opportunities to export American products to South Korea. In other words, we are now going to start sending products to South Korea.”

President Moon thanked President Trump and his team as well and said, “Today we have made amendments and modifications to improve the existing agreement. With the swift conclusion of the negotiations for the revision, uncertainty surrounding our FTA have been eliminated. And, as a result, companies from both countries will now be able to do business under more stable conditions.”

In a statement issued by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), Dan Halstrom, president and CEO, said is reassuring news for the American pork and beef industries. The terms of the original, 2012 version of KORUS helped increase US red meat market share in South Korea, as well as reinforce consumption in the country through more affordable and accessible products.

“Under KORUS, most US pork products now enter Korea duty-free. The duty rate on US beef has been reduced from 40 percent to 21.3 percent and will continue to decline each year until it is eliminated by 2026,” Halstrom said. “All major red meat competitors also now have free trade agreements with Korea, but the US has benefited from KORUS being implemented earlier than most of these FTAs, providing the US with a head start on tariff elimination. USMEF thanks our US trade officials for recognizing the importance of the favorable terms included in KORUS and maintaining them in the revised agreement.”   

The US trails only the European Union as Korea’s second-largest pork supplier and is the No. 1 beef supplier. US red meat exports to Korea set a record in 2017 at $1.7 billion, up 19 percent year-over-year, and 69 percent since 2012 when the original KORUS went into action. For 2018, US beef and pork export value has increased more than 50 percent and Korea is now the second-largest value market after Japan for US beef. It is the fourth largest for pork after Mexico, Japan and China/Hong Kong.