Not all posts can be regarding fashionable issues. This post is a business relevant issue for those of you that import or plan to import from Korea.
Korean FTA Takes Effect March 15th
KORUS FTA, a new free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, will take effect March 15th. It will eliminate 95% of tariffs on consumer products over the next five years, including immediately eliminating trade protections on heavy textiles and footwear.
U.S. - Korea Free Trade Agreement
Once it enters into force, the Agreement will be the United States' most commercially significant free trade agreement in more than 16 years.
The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone will add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product and around $10 billion to annual merchandise exports to Korea.
Under the FTA, almost 80 percent of U.S. exports to Korea of consumer and industrial products will become duty free on March 15, 2012, and nearly 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products will become duty free within five years of that date. Most remaining tariffs would be eliminated within 10 years.
For agricultural products, the FTA will immediately eliminate or phase out tariffs and quotas on a broad range of products, with almost two-thirds (by value) of Korea's agriculture imports from the United States becoming duty free upon entry into force.
For services, the FTA will provide meaningful market access commitments that extend across virtually all major service sectors, including greater and more secure access for international delivery services and the opening up of the Korean market for foreign legal consulting services.
In the area of financial services, the FTA will increase access to the Korean market and ensure greater transparency and fair treatment for U.S. suppliers of financial services. The FTA will address nontariff barriers in a wide range of sectors and includes strong provisions on competition policy, labor and environment, and transparency and regulatory due process.
The KORUS FTA will also provide U.S. suppliers with greater access to the Korean government procurement market. In addition to strengthening our economic partnership, the KORUS FTA would help to solidify the two countries' long-standing geostrategic alliance.
As the first U.S. FTA with a North Asian partner, the KORUS FTA is a model for trade agreements for the rest of the region, and underscores the U.S. commitment to, and engagement in, the Asia-Pacific region.
Please note that I am NOT an expert on these matters. You must do your own research with your customs brokers or other advisors. The above information is based on what I have found at http://www.ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/korus-fta on February 29th, 2012 (yes, today is leap year). Check with the official goverment website for most current information).