The United States and the Republic of Korea have close economic ties and both countries want those ties to become even stronger. This was the message of President Barack Obama's June 26 meeting with President Lee Myung-bak at the Toronto G-20 Summit. Reaffirming the utmost importance of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, President Obama announced that he was launching an initiative to complete that agreement.
President Obama characterized it succinctly when he proclaimed after the meeting, "It is the right thing for Korea. It will strengthen our commercial ties and create enormous potential economic benefits." This sentiment was underscored during U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke's meeting on July 20th with Republic of Korea's Minister of Knowledge Economy, or MKE, Choi Kyunghwan. It is the first meeting between Secretary Locke and Minister Choi and the first meeting of the Commerce-MKE Committee on Commercial Cooperation, which was created through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in June 2008.
The Republic of Korea is the eighth largest export market for U.S. business, and overall, it is the seventh largest goods trading partner of the U.S. As U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Kathleen Stephens noted in remarks in March to the Far Eastern Broadcasting Corporation, the U.S.- Korea economic relationship "is one of the world's most important, with two-way trade in goods reaching nearly $70 billion in 2009, a significant figure in a time of economic downturn."
The United States is committed to working with its ally and friend, the Republic of Korea, to build a prosperous future for their peoples; a future that the region and the world is invited to share.
Over the last 60 years, the U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea has continued to expand from its military roots, developing into one of the most vibrant and dynamic full-spectrum strategic alliances in modern history. Implementation of the Free Trade Agreement would underscore the enduring strength of this strategic partnership and form an additional pillar of what President Obama has called "the extraordinary friendship and alliance between our two countries."