Korea — The No. 1 Major Growth Market for U.S. Manufacturers

By December 16, 2010Trade

The latest Commerce Department trade data show that U.S. exports of manufactured goods are up 20.5 percent from the same period last year, fueled by rapid growth to some of our major markets. What is the fastest growing major market for U.S. manufactured goods exports so far this year? Just about everyone would say, “China.” But that’s the wrong answer.

U.S. manufactured goods exports to China this year are up as very strong 35 percent. But, China takes second place to Korea, where our exports are up a phenomenal 40 percent – putting Korea as the No. 1 fastest-growing major export market for U.S. manufacturers so far this year. Korean data corroborate that, showing that manufactured goods imports from the United States are growing faster than from any other major supplier.

U.S. manufacturers are racking up that growth despite Korea’s nearly 8 percent tariff and other trade hurdles. That shows U.S.-made manufactured goods are competitive and in hot demand in Korea. Just think how rapidly our exports to Korea could grow once Congress passes President Obama’s excellent U.S.–Korea Trade Promotion Agreement that would eliminate Korea’s tariffs on our manufactured goods and give us a big advantage over our competitors.

It is time for the Administration and the Congress to move as quickly as possible to implement all three pending trade agreements — with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. Every passing week costs us exports, competitiveness, and jobs.

Frank Vargo is the National Association of Manufacturers’ vice president for international economic affairs.

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