Get ready to add a new acronym to your vocabulary -- KORUS FTA -- the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. On April 1, at the last possible moment, the U.S. and South Korea reached agreement on a free-trade deal (FTA) -- the most significant trade agreement since NAFTA.
As is always the case, the economists will talk about the benefits of trade and the economic growth promised by the elimination of trade barriers between the two countries. The story is quite different for the U.S. beef industry, however.
While never technically part of the FTA, Congress and the U.S. Trade Representative Office had long indicated that Korea would have to reopen its beef market to the U.S. for an agreement to have any hope of passing. While the anti-trade demagoguery has almost become mainstream in recent years, most observers believe there's simply too much at stake for the two governments not to approve the proposed agreement.
That's why we've entered a critical timeframe for the U.S. beef industry. In recent times, the support for trade has vastly eroded; thus, KORUS FTA is expected to draw strong opposition. It's critical for U.S. beef producers to make it clear to their Senators that, without true access to the Korean market, they should withhold support for the proposed agreement.
While it's disappointing that a resolution to the Korean impasse over beef wasn't resolved in the negotiations, the industry still has significant leverage. It's crucial that our voice be heard loud and clear in the Senate, so Korea understands the U.S. has a real beef with no beef.
-- Troy Marshall