The U.S. Congress last week approved three new free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which collectively will give U.S. manufacturers, agribusiness interests and service suppliers access to nearly 100 million consumers under new, improved export terms. Once the agreements are implemented, most U.S. products exported to Korea, Colombia and Panama will become duty-free, increasing U.S. exports by some $13 billion. In addition, the agreements will reduce non-tariff barriers on U.S. agribusiness exports, protect U.S. intellectual property rights, improve investment protections and ensure more open access for U.S. service providers. Goods and services from South Korea, Colombia and Panama will also enjoy improved access into the U.S. market, which will lower costs for U.S. importing companies, but may increase market pressures for certain U.S. sectors. All three FTAs include complex rules of origin and access schedules, which businesses will need to understand to take full commercial advantage of these agreements. The target implementation date for the three FTAs is January 1, 2012, although this date may slip to mid-2012.
The McDermott Difference
McDermott Will & Emery’s International Trade Group was extensively involved in the negotiation of all three FTAs and has worked for years on trade matters involving South Korea and Latin America. If any client wants assistance in understanding how it can benefit from the FTAs, influence the FTA implementing regulations or address any continuing policy problems in these three countries, our International Trade Group can assist.
For more information, please contact your regular McDermott Will & Emery lawyer or an author.