KORUS FTA—Finally!

Anthony B. Kim /

March 15 marked the official start of the landmark Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).

Yes, it’s been a long journey. Almost six years ago, Washington and Seoul announced their intention to negotiate a free-trade pact. Critics were skeptical, yet the announcement was greeted as a welcome surprise. Despite their differences, the two allies had shown that they were determined to expand their economic partnership for the future.

No matter how bumpy and dramatic the process, one thing has been clear from the outset: The whole process of negotiating, signing, and ratifying the KORUS FTA has helped create a mature and competitive partnership between South Korea and the United States.

In a speech in Seoul six years ago, Dr. Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, got to the heart of the matter:

A strong U.S.–Korea relationship is essential to a stronger, freer Asia and a stronger, freer world.… We have so much to learn from each other; so many similar interests; so many opportunities to create more prosperous and free societies for both of our peoples.… As the world continues to grow and to evolve, I expect to see Korea’s prominence rise as a world leader. If we stand together—as equals—and act now to promote our mutual interests, we can overcome our common threats. We can change North Korea, win the War on Terrorism, and defeat the ideologies that fight against freedom.

That’s a vision to remember as we celebrate the official implementation of the KORUS FTA.