Several news outlets reported last weekend that President Trump was considering a possible withdrawal from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). Because South Korea represents the fourth-largest market for U.S. dairy exports, IDFA urged members to contact their governors and ask them to let the administration know they were opposed to withdrawing from KORUS. The collective voices of opposition from the agriculture and business community, combined with the geopolitical situation with North Korea, were among the top reasons provided for averting this decision for now.
The U.S. dairy industry exports cheese, milk powders and other ingredients to South Korea, and cheese is the top export, accounting for $170 million of the $231 million in dairy exports to the country in 2016.
In a Washington Post article on Tuesday, Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, said abandoning the agreement would put the U.S. dairy industry at risk of facing steep tariffs, which would add 36 percent to the price of cheese sold in South Korea.
“We’ll go back to about 36 percent while all of our competitors in other countries will continue to go duty free,” he said.
Under the agreement, tariffs on almost two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports have been eliminated. Tariff cuts and the lifting of other restrictions under the Korea free trade agreement have driven significant export growth for the U.S. dairy industry over the past five years.
IDFA is continuing to monitor these developments and remains in contact with administration officials and members of Congress to share information and learn more about their plans for the agreement. IDFA will continue to provide updates to members.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.