Korea Times, Seoul
US Seeks Power in Asia via FTA With Korea
By Kim Yon-se, Staff Reporter
25 April 2008
The United States is seeking to prevent Asian countries from pushing for closer economic cooperation while excluding Washington, a senior U.S. government official suggested Thursday.
``We will not stand idly by while others talk about Asian economic groupings that would exclude the United States,’’ Alexander A. Arvizu, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific, said in a statement.
He stressed that the free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea ― when it is ratified ― will play a significant role in hampering other countries’ movement toward an Asian economic bloc.
``The KORUS FTA, the first U.S. FTA in Northeast Asia, demonstrates conclusively U.S. resolve to remain engaged in the economically vibrant and strategically critical Asia-Pacific region,’’ he said.
Arvizu reported the strategy to the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, saying the U.S. government’s policy shows that it will continue to work aggressively to ``expand U.S. access’’ to growing Asian markets.
He said the KORUS FTA will be one of the best ways to promote U.S. economic interests ``not just in South Korea’’ but throughout East Asia, adding, ``Will they take the same steps South Korea has taken through KORUS to create a more foreign-investor-friendly environment ?’’
He predicted that the Korea-U.S. agreement will create new opportunities for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.
Upon approval by the legislatures of both countries, he said, the FTA will open South Korea’s growing market of 49 million consumers to the full range of U.S. goods and services, from agriculture to autos to telecommunications services.
He also commented on Korea’s full opening of the beef market to U.S. products. ``Safe, affordable, high-quality American beef will soon be back on Korean tables.’’
This agreement will be a huge boost to U.S. ranchers and producers who have waited patiently to regain access to the South Korean beef market, the official added.