Both Nebraska’s United States senators see great opportunity for the state with the signing of a free trade agreement with South Korea.
Congress has approved three trade agreements this week; agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama. South Korea is the largest of the three.
Sen. Ben Nelson says the agreement should allow the substantial trade between Nebraska and South Korea to expand even further.
“Demand for U.S. beef in Korea is skyrocketing. U.S. beef sales in Korea exceeded $518 million in 2010, an increase of 140% from 2009,” according to Nelson. “Now, implementation (of the trade agreement) would phase out over 15 years their 40% tariff on our imports.”
Some trade experts believe the South Korean agreement could prove to be the largest free trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico signed in 1995.
Sen. Mike Johanns says he’s not prepared to go that far, yet. He points out the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) of 2005 was reached with a number of countries. Still, Johanns says lowering tariffs on exports to South Korea has great potential for American farmers, including Nebraska beef producers.
“It is very, very significant. This is a very large marketplace, one we’re excited to see finally getting approved,” Johanns says. “We just think that there’s just going to be great opportunities for our state in that market.”
Johanns says that while South Korea has the great potential for Nebraska farmers, it will also provide a large market from many Nebraska companies.