WASHINGTON, DC — The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) today announced its strong support for the U.S. administration’s intention to pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Republic of Korea, which will help address Korea’s high tariffs and other barriers to U.S. distilled spirits. Last week, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman jointly announced that the U.S. and South Korea would begin negotiations toward a free trade agreement that would mutually benefit both countries. “Pursuing an FTA with South Korea provides an unparalleled opportunity to open further the Korean market to U.S. spirits products,” said DISCUS President Peter Cressy. “We applaud the administration’s intention to pursue this pact. Korea is the United States’ seventh largest trading partner and an important market for U.S. spirits exports. A free trade agreement will allow us to address Korea’s high tariffs and other barriers to U.S. distilled spirits.” From January through November 2005, U.S. spirits exports to South Korea were valued at $2.2 million, representing just 2.7% of total U.S. spirits exports to Asia.* “Improving access to Korea’s market has the potential to contribute significantly to the growth of the U.S. spirits industry,” Cressy added. *Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.