Trading Partner Portal: South Korea


Trade Overview

usa_rok_ca_flagsKorea is a significant market for U.S. small and medium-sized companies, which make up a majority of U.S. businesses exporting to Korea.

Korea is a $1.4 trillion economy and its commercial relationship with the United States is largely complementary. In 2017, two-way trade between the two countries totaled over $119.44 billion. In 2017, U.S. goods exports to Korea were $48.27 billion.

Top California Export MarketsKorea is California’s 6th largest export destination. California is the top exporting state to Korea, making up almost 18% percent of U.S. exports. In 2017, California exported over $9.62 billion to Korea. Top products from California to Korea included non electrical machinery, computers and electronics, food manufactures, and agricultural products.

Korea currently enjoys broad access to the U.S. market and the United States is one of Korea’s larger exporting markets, importing 12.4 percent of Korea’s worldwide exported goods. CIA World Factbook

According to the most recent figures, U.S. foreign direct investment in Korea totaled roughly $39 billion and was concentrated largely in the manufacturing, banking, and wholesale trade sectors. Korean foreign direct investment to the United States reached $38.75 billion in 2016. Korean FDI in the US supported 51,900 jobs, invested $1 billion into research and development, and invested another $14.2 billion to expanding US exports. The top industry sectors for Korean FDI in 2016 were: auto components, industrial machinery, software and IT services, auto OEM, consumer electronics, and metals. Select USA

There are over 1 million Korean-Americans in the United States. Los Angeles alone is home to 158,000 residents of  Korean origin, according to the Migration Policy Institute. There is also a large population of Korean students studying at higher education institutions across the U.S. Korean visitors enter the United States via the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

WTO Trade Policy Review: Republic of Korea – October 2016

Trade Agreements

U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement

CalChamber Support for U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement Reaffirmed   September 5, 2017 The California Chamber of Commerce reaffirmed support for the U. S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) in a letter sent September 5 to members of the Trump Administration, including the Secretary of Commerce and the US Trade Representative.

March 15, 2017 marked the five-year anniversary of the entry into force of the CalChamber-supported U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). These past five years have been a period of growth and resurgence for the American economy, with 2016 recording solid GDP growth, a net gain of 2.4 million private-sector jobs, and the seventh consecutive year of net gain in manufacturing employment


The U.S.-Korea trade and investment relationship is substantially larger and stronger than before the KORUS agreement. Since entry into force of the agreement in 2012, the U.S. and Korea have carried out five rounds of tariff cuts and eliminations, creating significant new market access opportunities for U.S. exporters.

The agreement also has expanded opportunities for the growing U.S. services trade, improved transparency in Korea’s regulatory system, strengthened intellectual property protection, and leveled the playing field for key U.S. exports, including autos. Overall, U.S.-Korea goods and services trade has risen from $126.5 billion in 2011 to nearly $144.6 billion in 2016.

Four Year Snapshot: The U.S.-Korea Free Trade AgreementUSTR, March 15, 2016

Statement by Ambassador Michael Froman on the Third Anniversary of KORUS
USTR, March 13, 2015

3 Ways U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Has Helped U.S. Dairy
U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog, March 16, 2015

Ag exports to Korea growing 7x faster than those to world at large
Farm Futures, March 16, 2015

U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement Shows Strong Results on Second Anniversary
In the two years that this landmark agreement has been in effect, Korea has become the sixth-largest trading partner of the United States, exports of U.S. manufactured goods to Korea have increased, Koreans are buying more U.S. services than ever, and U.S. exports of a wide range of agricultural products have seen significant gains. KORUS has also improved Korea’s investment environment through strong provisions on intellectual property rights, services, and investment, supporting U.S. exports.
USTR, March 12, 2014

The KORUS Advantage: A Basic Guide for US Companies to the Contents of the KORUS FTAwas recently published by the U.S.-Korea Business Council and AmCham Korea. This guide provides guidelines for U.S. businesses looking to take advantage of the KORUS FTA.

KORUS FTA Facts and Figures is a six-month overview of bilateral trade statistics since the KORUS FTA was implemented, released by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D.C.

The CalChamber was part of a broad-based coalition that waged a multi-year campaign to secure congressional passage of the U.S.-Korea FTA. Congress approved the FTA on October 12, 2011. The South Korean Parliament followed suit on November 22, 2011.

U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Now in Effect

U.S. Korea Connect
To help you take advantage of the US-Korea FTA, the Korean
Embassy in the US has introduced a new website at

updated LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Takes Effect Today
Today is the implementation date for the landmark U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the product of years of collaboration by the business community and both governments. The California Chamber of Commerce-supported FTA is the biggest free trade pact the United States has reached since entering the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. CalChamber, March 15, 2012

March 15, 2012 is the implementation day for the landmark U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the product of years of collaboration by the business community and both governments.

The California Chamber of Commerce-supported FTA is the biggest free trade pact the United States has reached since entering the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.

Recognition goes to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for his leadership in getting the U.S.-Korea FTA to the finish line.

The United States has welcomed the newly appointed South Korean Ambassador to the United States, Choi Young-jin.

His Excellency Duk-Soo Han, former Prime Minister and Ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Korea, was instrumental in garnering support for the U.S.-Korea agreement. Han spoke to the CalChamber on several occasions, as did the Consuls General of Korea in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The United States and the Republic of Korea announced on February 2, 2006 that they were beginning negotiations toward a bilateral FTA, with talks expected to take up to a year. Although the negotiations concluded on April 1, 2007, nearly five years passed before the FTA could be implemented.

Implementation of the U.S.-Korea FTA will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and services, promote economic growth, and enhance trade between the United States and Korea.

This comprehensive agreement was approved by the U.S. House (278-151) and the U.S. Senate (83-15) on October 12, 2011.

U.S. – Korea FTA: Final Votes
Ayes: Becerra, Berman, Bilbray, Bono Mack,
Calvert, Campbell, Costa, Davis, Denham,
Dreier, Eshoo, Gallegly, Herger, Issa, Lewis,
Lungren, Matsui, McCarthy, McClintock,
McKeon, Miller, Nunes, Pelosi, Royce, Sanchez (Loretta), Schiff, Thompson, Boxer, Feinstein
Noes: Baca, Bass, Capps, Cardoza, Chu, Farr,
Filner, Garamendi, Honda, Hunter, Lee, Lofgren,
McNerney, Miller, Napolitano, Richardson, Rohrabacher, Roybal-Allard, Sanchez (Linda), Sherman, Speier, Stark, Waters,
Waxman, Woolsey

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that with full implementation of the KORUS FTA, U.S. goods exports to Korea will likely increase by $9.7-$10.9 billion and U.S. imports of goods from Korea will likely increase by $6.4-$6.9 billion, enhancing our already balanced trade partnership.

CalChamber Links

CalChamber Position

The California Chamber of Commerce, in keeping with long-standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business. New multilateral, sectoral and regional trade agreements ensure that the United States may continue to gain access to world markets, resulting in an improved economy and additional employment of Americans.

Reasons for Position

  • The U.S.- Korea FTA sends a strong signal that the United States intends to remain heavily engaged in the region for a long time to come in business, economics, security and international politics.
  • The FTA strengthens a more than 60-year-old alliance between the United States and South Korea, reinforcing the economic and political reforms South Korea continues to make.

WEST Program

WEST Program

The WEST (Work, English Study, and Travel) Program is a unique exchange program that provides an opportunity for Korean university students and recent graduates to come to the United States for a period of 18 months to study English and to participate in professional level internships of up to 12 months.

This program, which was agreed to by Korean President Lee and U.S. President Bush in 2008, was launched late last year and is fully supported by the Korean and U.S. governments.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs has designated the Korea-U.S. Science Cooperation Center in Vienna, Virginia (KUSCO) as a sponsoring organization of the WEST Program. If your company or organization would like learn more about this program, please visit .

2010 Asia Trade Mission

2010 Asia Trade Mission

CalChamber Trade Mission Blog

2010 Trade Mission to Asia
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
September 9 – 15, 2010
Hangzhou ~ Shanghai ~ Tokyo ~ SeoulClick on a city to see the itinerary California Business DelegationCalChamber Joins Governor on Successful Asia Trade Mission
CalChamber, September 21, 2010


CalChamber Hosts Korea International Trade Association (KITA) Delegation

(June 26, 2013) CalChamber vice president of international affairs, Susanne Stirling meets with visitors from the Korea International Trade Association.

From left: Mr. Tiger Min-Sok Chu, director general-Americas; Mrs. Susanne Stirling, vice president, international affairs; Ms. Christina Kong, assistant manager, New York office; Joseph Lee, assistant manager-Americas

Korean Ambassador Highlights Trade Agreement at CalChamber Forum
His Excellency Duk-Soo Han, ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Korea

(September 8, 2010) Final approval of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will create American jobs, His Excellency Duk-Soo Han, ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Korea, told a California Chamber of Commerce gathering last week.

Click Here for Full Article

Click Here to Watch Video

CalChamber Hosts Mayor of Gangnam, Korea

(January 31, 2008) CalChamber President Allan Zaremberg exchanges business cards with the Mayor Maeng Jung Ju of Gangnam, Korea on January 31, 2008. Accompanying the Korean delegation is Ronnie Guyer (center) field representative for Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Costa Mesa).

Korean Ambassador Urges Support for Free Trade Agreement

(August 29, 2007) The California Chamber of Commerce yesterday hosted His Excellency Lee Tae-sik, Korean Ambassador to the United States, at an international luncheon forum where he discussed the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), currently pending before Congress, and enumerated the benefits of the FTA for California businesses.

Read the Full Article


Key Country Contacts

CalChamber Receives Korean Presidential Citation

On Thursday, December 6, the California Chamber of Commerce received the prestigious Presidential Citation from the government of the Republic of Korea for promoting U.S.-Korea trade and commercial relations, and specifically for contributing to the passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
CalChamber, December 11, 2012

Pictured: Consul General Jeong Gwan Lee and Consul Kwang Ho Lee of the Korean Consulate General in San Francisco present the Korean Presidential Citation to Mrs. Susanne Stirling, Vice President International Affairs, with 2012 Chair Tim Dubois observing.