August 24, 2017

U.S. Cheese Exports to South Korea at Risk

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

South Korea is an important, if not critical, destination for U.S. dairy products, particularly cheese. But all that could change if U.S. South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) is torn up.

According to a blog posted by Ross Christieson and Shawna Morris of the U.S. Dairy Export Council:

• South Korea is the No. 2 U.S. cheese export market after Mexico.

• U.S. cheese shipments to South Korea totaled nearly 94 million lbs. in 2016, about 15 percent of total U.S. cheese exports.

• U.S. cheese shipments to South Korea are on the rise in 2017, up 48 percent over the first half of 2017, compared to January-June 2016.

• USDEC estimates total South Korean cheese trade will rise by 27 percent from 2015-2021, with the strongest growth projected for cheddar for processing and natural cheese for foodservice and retail (+34 percent each).

President Trump has complained that South Korea has a large trade surplus with the United States, and he is demanding more balance. If KORUS is torn up, the U.S. faces potential tariffs on its cheese exports.

USDEC notes: “Without KORUS, U.S. cheese exports to Korea would be subject to the pre-FTA tariff of 36 percent, while all of our key competitors could keep shipping millions of pounds of cheese duty-free.”

Read the full blog here.