Korea-U.S. FTA has little effect on small firms: report

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) -- The country's bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States had a minimal effect on exports and job creation by smaller firms while contributing greatly to boosting those of larger firms, a government report showed Friday.

According to a report from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, exports to the U.S. by the country's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increased only 1.26 percent on-year during a 12-month period following the implementation of the Korea-U.S. FTA in March 2012.

The report said the Korea-U.S. FTA had a positive effect on the growth of shipments by SMEs to the U.S., noting their overall exports over the cited period had gained only 0.38 percent from a year earlier.

However, the report showed the country's total exports to the U.S., including those by large conglomerates, rose by a larger margin of 4.1 percent on-year in 2012.

Employment by South Korean SMEs has actually shrunken from around 8.61 million workers in March 2012 to about 8.44 million in January 2013, according to the report.

Friday's report was based on a study conducted by Seoul's Sungkyunkwan University.

"South Korea and the United States will evaluate effects of the Korea-U.S. FTA, based on their respective reports that were released, and continue their consultations on ways to help maximize benefits to SMEs," the ministry said in a press release.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>