Cantwell, Reichert: State will benefit when Korean trade pact takes effect in March

By:  Rob Hotakainen
Source: The Bellingham Herald

-Washington state will see a quick rise in exports when a trade agreement with South Korea takes effect on March 15.  That's the consensus of Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, who say the trade-dependent state should be among the biggest winners of the new trade pact.  Reichert, a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, the President's Export Council and one of the leading advocates in Congress for the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, said the deal will create thousands of jobs in Washington State and offer $11 billion in new sales opportunities for Pacific Northwest manufacturers, farmers and others who provide services.  "I am proud to have helped pass this historic agreement and am excited to see it come to fruition," Reichert said.  U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced earlier this week that the trade deal, which Congress approved last year, will take effect next month. His announcement came after U.S. and Korean officials spent President's Day weekend reviewing each other's laws and regulations dealing with the agreement.  "In a few short weeks, the promise of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement – including tens of thousands of export-supported jobs with better wages – will start to come home for American businesses and working families, Kirk said.  On March 15, Kirk said, nearly 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial products to Korea will become duty-free, including aerospace equipment, agricultural equipment, auto parts, building products, chemicals, consumer goods, electrical equipment, environmental goods, all footwear and travel goods, paper products, scientific equipment and shipping and transportation equipment.  And nearly two-thirds of U.S. exports of agricultural products to Korea will become duty-free, including wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine, according to Kirk.  Cantwell said the announcement means that tariffs will be eliminated in time for this year's growing season. And she said it will provide immediate help to the state's economy, noting that the deal will also end a 40 percent tariff on beef over 15 years.  Cantwell said South Korea is the fourth largest export market for Washington state goods, taking in $1.4 billion worth of agriculture exports from the state last year.     

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