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NEXT WEEK: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to Lead Five-Member Congressional Delegation to Korea

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Visit will highlight win-win trade benefits, push for swift approval of Korea trade agreement

[DETAILED SCHEDULE BELOW]

On April 27-29, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will lead a bipartisan congressional delegation to Korea to build support for the passage of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS).  The passage of KORUS is an important part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative and his vision for the United States to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build its global competition and win the future. 

The delegation consists of five members from the U.S. House of Representatives – Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rep. David Reichert (R-WA), and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI).  On this fact-finding mission, these congressional members, four of whom sit on the House Ways and Means Committee that has jurisdiction over trade agreements, will have an opportunity to witness how KORUS will support job creation here at home and spur economic growth in both the U.S. and Korea.  The trip will help the members effectively communicate the value and importance of KORUS to their congressional colleagues and the American public.

During the three-day visit, the delegation will see first-hand the demand for U.S. products and services in Korea.  They will visit Seoul National University Hospital for a demonstration of Varian Medical Systems’ (Palo Alto, Calif.) advanced radiotherapy technology.  Varian is the world leader in this life-saving, cancer treatment technology with approximately $34 million worth of annual sales to Korea.  Their equipment is manufactured in California and Utah and exported globally.  The delegation will also visit Pantech, one of the largest mobile phone makers in Korea.  Currently, Pantech imports about half a billion dollars worth of U.S. products annually, including chipsets from Qualcomm (San Diego, Calif.) and Gorilla Glass from Corning Inc. (Corning, New York).  Gorilla Glass is manufactured in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and exported all over the world for use in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices and has applications across a large range of industries. 

With the approval and implementation of KORUS, Pantech is expected to quadruple its purchase of U.S. products by 2015 and Varian’s global competitiveness will be strengthened by a significant tariff reduction, while Corning will see existing tariffs on Gorilla Glass eliminated, gain greater access to Korea’s growing mobile-device market and enhance its competitiveness vis-à-vis other manufacturers in the region.  Corning is also investing $180 million to expand its factory in Harrodsburg in order to meet the growing demands of its customers in Asia, including Korea. 

The delegation will also hold a series of meetings with high-level Korean officials to discuss the benefits of KORUS for both the U.S. and Korea, and engage top Korean university students to talk about the impact that young Korean leaders can make to strengthen the future of U.S.-Korea economic relations.

In addition, the delegation will visit the Demilitarized Zone to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Korea as a critical ally in the region and underscore KORUS as key to bolstering the economic pillar of the United States’ strategic partnership with Korea.  The delegation will also have lunch with U.S. troops and their families to show appreciation for their service and sacrifice.

KORUS is the United States’ most commercially significant trade agreement in more than 16 years.  Korea is the United States’ 7th largest trading partner, and U.S. goods exports to Korea through February 2011 jumped 10.9 percent compared to the same period in 2010.   According to U.S. International Trade Commission estimates, the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas under KORUS on goods alone would add $10 billion to $11 billion to annual U.S. GDP. By expanding access to Korea, the 12th largest economy in the world, the agreement will support tens of thousands of American jobs, open Korea’s $580 billion services market to American companies, eliminate Korean tariffs on 95 percent of U.S. exports of industrial and consumer goods within five years, and immediately eliminate Korean tariffs on over two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports.

Below is a schedule for Secretary Locke and the Congressional Delegation

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27 (Seoul, Korea)

  • Courtesy call with Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, President of Republic of Korea (Photo spray)
  • Bilateral meeting with Mr. Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Photo spray)
  • Bilateral meeting with Mr. Kim Jong-Hoon, Minister for Trade (Photo spray)
  • Afternoon tea with Korean university students (Photo spray)

THURSDAY, APRIL 28 (Seoul, Korea)

  • Visit to Pantech manufacturing facility to see assembly of U.S.-made products: Corning’s Gorilla Glass and Qualcomm chipsets (Open press)
  • Secretary Locke gives keynote remarks at an event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (Open press)

FRIDAY, APRIL 29 (Seoul, Korea)

  • Bilateral meeting with Mr. Choi Kyung-Hwan, Minister of Knowledge Economy (Photo spray)
  • Tour of the Demilitarized Zone (Photo spray)
  • Lunch with U.S. troops at Garrison Yongsan (Photo spray)
  • Courtesy call with members of the Korean National Assembly (Photo spray)
  • Meeting with the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade (Photo spray)
  • Visit to Seoul National University Hospital to see Varian Medical Systems’ U.S.-made radiotherapy technology (Tour is closed press)