WASHINGTON – News from US government officials on May 4 regarding progress made on the long-awaited trade agreement between the US and South Korea (KORUS FTA) was applauded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk indicated in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) that once the KORUS FTA has been implemented, the US will request consultations with South Korea to discuss the beef protocol’s full application.

Sen. Baucus announced his support for the trade pact subsequent to the letter. Bill Donald, NCBA president, said Sen. Baucus served as a “powerful and committed” advocate for US cattle ranchers throughout the negotiations with Korea.

“As a Montana rancher, it was an honor to hear Sen. Baucus voice his support for this trade agreement, which could be the most impactful trade agreement the US has entered into in decades,” Donald said.

Once implemented, the KORUS FTA would reduce South Korea’s current tariff on US beef from 40 percent to zero over the next 15 years. The US beef industry would get $15 million in new tariff benefits in the first year alone, with about $325 million in tariff reductions annually once fully implemented. South Korea could eventually be a $1 billion market for US beef producers, Donald said.

“NCBA has been an outspoken proponent of this trade agreement from the very beginning,” he added. “We will continue to urge members of Congress to ratify this trade pact as soon as President Obama sends it to them.”