It has been found that South Korea’s beef imports from the United States totaled US$890 million for the first nine months of this year and U.S. beef and Australian beef accounted for 50.3% and 43.9% of the South Korean imported beef market during the period, respectively. For reference, the market shares had been 39.4% and 50.6% in 2011 before the implementation of the KORUS FTA.
South Korea’s beef imports from the United States had stood at US$470 million in 2012, when the KORUS FTA took effect, but increased to US$707 million in 2014 and US$960 million last year. At present, the import tariff applied to U.S. beef is 24% and that applied to Australian beef is 29.3%. The tariffs are being reduced from 40% over 15 years in accordance with South Korea’s free trade agreements with the U.S. and Australia.
South Korea’s pork and chicken imports from the U.S. are on the increase as well. Specifically, its meat imports from the U.S. increased 18.3% year on year in the first quarter of this year and 40.7% year on year in the fourth quarter of last year. Likewise, South Korea’s agricultural imports from the U.S. showed a year-on-year increase of 29.9% in the fourth quarter of last year, 39.6% in the first quarter of this year, 41.4% in the second quarter of this year, and 7.7% in the third quarter of this year. For the first three quarters of this year, its corn, feed, and vegetable oil imports from the U.S. jumped 67.1%, 62.5%, and 103.8% from a year ago, respectively.
South Korea’s energy imports from the U.S. have increased a lot since the latter half of last year, too. For example, LPG, coal, and crude oil imports increased 80.2%, 168%, and 1,658% from a year earlier during the first nine months of this year. In addition, South Korea’s LNG imports from the U.S. skyrocketed from US$10 million to US$420 million between last year and the three quarters of this year. Under the circumstances, South Korea’s goods account surplus with the U.S. fell from US$19.7 billion to US$14.8 billion between the first 10 months of 2016 and 2017.