exporters-KORUS FTA

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- More than six in every 10 South Korean exporters to the United States have benefited from a bilateral free trade agreement over the past year, a poll showed Wednesday.

According to the survey of 350 exporters to the U.S. taken by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), 61.2 percent of the respondents said the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, dubbed KORUS FTA, has been a boon to their exports to America over the last year.

Nearly 40 percent of the exporters polled, however, said the free trade pact has been unhelpful to their exports to the U.S.

After years of hard negotiations and ratification procedures, the KORUS FTA went into effect on March 15, 2012, following a similar deal with the European Union that took effect in July 2011.

"South Korea's trade surplus with the U.S. grew 44 percent last year from a year ago, as exports to the U.S. rose 4.1 percent despite an on-year a 1.3 percent fall in its overall exports stemming from an economic downturn," the KCCI said.

"The KORUS FTA is expected to have a significant effect on a rise in exports to the U.S. from this year, as the U.S. economy has been showing signs of recovery from the end of last year," it added.

Meanwhile, 62.4 percent of the respondents said that they have had difficulty utilizing the free trade agreement to boost their shipments to the U.S. mainly due to a lack of trade experts.

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