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U.S. says TPP, KORUS FTA are core parts of its economic policy in Asia

2013/12/19 05:53

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) -- The Obama administration is fully committed to every effort for the success of the envisioned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea, as both are key parts of Washington's economic policy in Asia, a State Department official said Wednesday.

The U.S. is confident that the TPP agreement will drive growth and create jobs not only in the U.S. but also across the Asia-Pacific region, said Scot Marciel, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

Testifying at a Senate panel, he said, "Looking down the road, we see the TPP agreement not just as an important vehicle to boost U.S. exports, but also as a compelling platform for regional economic integration as the economic benefits of its high standards become apparent and its membership expands over time."

   In late November, South Korea announced its interest in the ongoing TPP negotiations.

The current members of the talks are the U.S., Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Some expect they will reach a deal when TPP trade ministers meet early next month.

U.S. officials have described South Korea as a "natural candidate" for the TPP, citing the bilateral free trade pact, known as KORUS FTA.

"It is expanding one of the most vibrant trading relationships in the world, one that topped $130 billion U.S. in goods and services in 2012," Marciel said. "We believe that more benefits await."

   Under the KORUS FTA, South Korea's tariffs on more than 95 percent of exports of U.S. industrial and consumer goods to the major Asian economy will be eliminated by Jan. 1, 2016, he noted.

"We are working closely with the Korean government to ensure that the FTA is implemented smoothly and fully and that American companies can take full benefit of the trade pact," he said.