NPC Welcomes Obama’s Initiative On Korea FTA

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 30, 2010)— The National Potato Council (NPC) applauds President Obama for his commitment to resolving the outstanding issues in the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) by November when the President and his Korean counterpart will meet in conjunction with the G-20 Summit in Seoul, Korea. The KORUS FTA was signed more than 3 years ago but has not been submitted to the U.S. Congress for approval.

Approval of the KORUS FTA would greatly assist the Administration in reaching its goal of doubling U.S. exports in 5 years. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the reductions in tariff and non-tariff barriers to manufactured and agriculture goods in the agreement would increase U.S. exports to Korea by $10 to $11 billion annually.

“Completion of the KORUS FTA would send a strong signal to our trading partners all across the world that the U.S. intends to aggressively seek reduced tariffs through bilateral or multilateral agreements in order to remain competitive all across the globe,” stated Roger Mix, NPC President and a potato grower in Colorado. “We cannot afford to continue to stand still while our competitors negotiate reduced tariffs that make our exports non-competitive.”

Korea is the fifth largest export market for U.S. frozen fries with $36 million in annual sales. U.S. fries dominate the market with an 80% market share. The KORUS FTA must be passed quickly as competitors are also negotiating agreements with Korea. Korea signed a FTA with the European Union containing many of the same potato tariff reductions. Canada, New Zealand, and Australia are also pursuing FTAs with Korea that will likely cause Korean suppliers to switch their purchasing to the lower cost product, resulting in significant lost market share for the U.S. Considerably larger market opportunities for fresh and dehydrated potatoes will also result from completion of the Korea FTA.