WASHINGTON (AP) — If approved by Congress, the proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement probably would increase the U.S. gross domestic product by almost $12 billion through increased exports of merchandise and services, the International Trade Commission said Thursday.
In an independent analysis required by law, the U.S. commission said exports of agricultural products will be a major export beneficiary of the agreement due to South Korea's removal of high tariffs on farm products.
The U.S. trade representative, Susan Schwab, whose office negotiated the agreement, welcomed the findings and urged quick approval by Congress of what she described as the most significant free trade agreement in 15 years.
The last blockbuster agreement was NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico in 1994.
''This agreement to open up trade with (South) Korea — the world's 10th largest economy — will support thousands of American jobs and higher American incomes,'' Schwab said. ''Farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers in every state will benefit from deeper and stronger trade and investment ties with this key Asian ally.''
Congress is supposed to take up free trade agreements expeditiously. The pact was signed June 30 under the ''fast track'' that forces Congress to pass or reject the agreement without amendments.
The ITC analysis said Americans can expect increased imports of textiles, apparel, leather products and footwear after the agreement lifts high U.S. tariffs on those products.
South Korea also will ship more machinery, electronics and transportation equipment including passenger vehicles, the report said. It said increases in imports of Korean automobiles and textiles probably will replace exports from other countries.
The analysis said the agreement probably will bring relatively large exports from the United States of machinery, electronics and transportation equipment, passenger vehicles and parts because of small tariff changes.
Exports from the United States also probably will be increased for high technology products, such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices, because of improvements in South Korea's regulatory system that were negotiated into the document, the analysis said.