Report: Korean trade agreement will help US economy

For example, Cowan said the trade agreement would immediately cut the Korean supermarket price of a six-pack of Florida orange juice concentrate from $22.32 to $14.49, "creating more export sales for Florida growers and their processors and shippers.” 

Third Way’s report notes that the reduction or elimination of tariffs will help farmers and U.S. services firms tap into Korea’s $560 billion services market. 

Congress and the Obama administration are in technical discussions about the FTA as U.S. trade officials move forward with agreements with Panama and Colombia. President Obama has asked for the agreements to be completed by the end of June. 

Congressional supporters welcomed the report. 

“By opening up access to the expanding market in Korea, KORUS will support growth in a number of U.S. sectors, an important element in the effort to meet President Obama's goal of doubling our exports and maintaining America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a Third Way statement.

Third Way also emphasized that while KORUS and other trade deals are vital, they must also be part of a comprehensive trade strategy, similar to the agenda being pushed by U.S. trade officials that includes the reauthorization of trade adjustment assistance to ensure more American workers can benefit from the global economy.  

“Ratifying KORUS would send an important signal to the world that America is fully back in the game and ready to aggressively seek fairness for our exporters in global markets,” Cowan said. “And fairness for our exporters will translate into faster growth for America’s economy and more good jobs for American workers.”

On Tuesday, five Republican senators met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to promote congressional approval the accord.

Lee and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told the senators — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) — during a lunch meeting in Seoul that the trade deal is economically essential and will strengthen their partnership.

"Bringing down the trade barriers with South Korea — the world's 12th largest economy — is one step we can take toward bringing this country out of its financial hole and creating jobs," Johanns told The Hill. "It was very insightful to meet with President Lee this week and see firsthand the importance of the trade agreement I have long advocated on the Senate floor."

On Monday, Lee met with Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to discuss the accord, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday was in Seoul to reassure the South Korean president of President Obama's "firm support for the trade pact." 

Next week, several lawmakers will travel with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to South Korea. 

The delegation includes Crowely and Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), four out of five of whom sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, along with other Commerce Department officials.

KORUS, first signed in 2007 and then changed in December, has been stalled in both countries.