Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said the announcement that South Korea and the United States intend to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement is exciting news for agriculture.

"Korea is the world's 10th largest economy and already our sixth largest market for agricultural exports, with a very real potential for greatly expanded sales of U.S. farm and food products. A free trade agreement will greatly improve access for our producers to Korean consumers that seek high quality and affordably priced U.S. products. Korea already is a significant market for our corn, soybeans, wheat, processed foods, cotton, citrus, nuts and fruit juices.

"In 2004, Korea imported $10.6 billion in agricultural products to satisfy the demand of its increasingly affluent 48 million consumers. The United States provides over a fifth of Korea's agricultural imports and that would significantly increase under a free trade agreement that would enhance market access and eliminate remaining trade barriers for U.S. exports."

SOURCE: USDA news release.