After ten months of negotiations, the U.S. has signed a trade deal with South Korea which Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says could bring big benefits for grain farmers and pork producers, but not to cattlemen. Grassley says South Korea is the United States’ ninth largest trading partner now, even in front of Mexico.
Grassley says "This would be the most significant trade agreement for the United States since the North American (Free) Trade Agreement was reached in 1993, even though we’ve had a lot of other trade agreements with single countries, called bilateral agreements, since then." The trade deal still has to be approved by lawmakers in both countries and Grassley says he sees a lot of good — and some bad — in the agreement.
Grassley says "It’s especially good for agriculture, for our grains, for our pork. There’s one outstanding issue that would keep me from supporting it, but I think Korea is eventually going to wake up, and that is in regard to beef." He says he has mixed feelings because the agreement is "commercially significant," with almost 95-percent of tariffs on industrial and consumer goods being eliminated within three years.
Grassley says U.S. pork producers and soybean producers stand to benefit greatly from the deal, and so do service providers. Still, he says Korea’s refusal to buy U.S. beef is not scientifically justified as U.S. beef is safe and millions of consumers enjoy it every day.
Grassley says "They also have an embargo against our beef because of mad cow disease. Now, I would expect them to do that if we had a recent case, but this goes back three years. In the meantime, a lot of countries that kept our beef out, including Japan, have decided to take our beef back in."
Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over international trade. He says the U.S. already has a 72-billion-dollar trading relationship with Korea, and full implementation of this agreement would promote significant growth.