U.S. farmers achieved an important trade milestone as the Korean National Assembly ratified the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. With a vote of 151 to 7, the assembly approved all 14 implementation bills accompanying the agreement as well. The National Corn Growers Association, along with many others in the U.S. and Korean business communities, applauded this announcement which they have championed since the first announcement of the FTA in 2006.
"The ratification of this agreement is an important victory for U.S. farmers as we will soon be able to compete in this vibrant market on a level playing field," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Chad Blindauer. "The Korean market continues to grow, both for grains and for meat imports, it is crucial the U.S. providers remain competitive."
Korea is currently the United States' third largest corn market and is a potentially important market for distillers grains. Korea imported more than seven million metric tons of corn for the United States last year, which represented 30 percent of the country's entire corn exports. During the same period, Korea also imported more than 350,000 metric tons of distillers grains for use in their feed industry.
Additionally, U.S. meat exports into Korea are also expected to rise as the provisions of the agreement come into effect. With Korean imports of U.S. beef, pork and chicken already on the rise, domestic demand for corn from the feed industry may also rise.
U.S. officials anticipate that the provisions of the agreement will be implemented in early 2012. Once implemented, U.S. corn for feed and distillers dried grains will enter duty-free immediately.