WASHINGTON, DC – The Distilled Spirits Council today hailed the three-year anniversary of the implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), citing a 71% increase in U.S. distilled spirits exports to Korea since the agreement entered into force on March 15, 2012.  In 2014, direct U.S. spirits exports to Korea were valued at $14.5 million, up from $8.4 million in 2011.

“The KORUS FTA has leveled the playing field for U.S. spirits by eliminating tariffs, which has led to record exports,” said Christine LoCascio, Senior Vice President of International Issues and Trade.  “As the fifth largest spirits market in the world in volume terms, Korea continues to present a great opportunity for U.S. distillers to expand their exports.”

Tariffs on imports of Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey – which account for 70% of global U.S. spirits exports — were eliminated immediately upon entry into force of the agreement with Korea.  Tariffs on all other categories of U.S. spirits, such as vodka, gin, rum, etc., are being phased out and will be eliminated by next year.

In addition, the KORUS FTA included important provisions recognizing Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as products manufactured exclusively in the United States, which helps to ensure that only genuine American Whiskeys may be sold in the Korean market.

“It is clear that comprehensive free trade agreements, such as the KORUS FTA, provide concrete results and significant new export opportunities for U.S. spirits producers,” LoCascio concluded.

The Distilled Spirits Council has conducted educational seminars on American spirits for media and opinion leaders in Korea, including at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence.