Trading Partner Portal: South Korea


Key Country Contacts

CalChamber Resources Business Cultural/Educational

Korean American Chambers
Korean Consulates in California
International Trade FAQs 
    Obtaining a Certificate of Origin
    Setting up a Business in California
    Country Studies - Foreign Market Sources

U.S. Commercial Service Korea
AmCham Korea
Embassy of Korea 
City of Busan
Gyeonggi Province in Los Angeles
Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Korea Economic Institute
Korea International Trade Association
Korea Trade (KOTRA)
Korea Trade (KOTRA) North America
U.S.-Korea Business Council

International Universities/Programs
Sister Cities International

CalChamber Hosts Korea International Trade Association (KITA) Delegation

(June 26, 2013) CalChamber vice president of international affairs, Susanne Stirling meets with visitors from the Korea International Trade Association.
(From left: Mr. Tiger Min-Sok Chu, director general-Americas; Mrs. Susanne Stirling, vice president, international affairs; Ms. Christina Kong, assistant manager, New York office; Joseph Lee, assistant manager-Americas​)


CalChamber Receives Korean Presidential Citation
On Thursday, December 6, the California Chamber of Commerce received the prestigious Presidential Citation from the government of the Republic of Korea for promoting U.S.-Korea trade and commercial relations, and specifically for contributing to the passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
CalChamber, December 11, 2012

Pictured: Consul General Jeong Gwan Lee and Consul Kwang Ho Lee of the Korean Consulate General in San Francisco present the Korean Presidential Citation to Mrs. Susanne Stirling, Vice President International Affairs, with 2012 Chair Tim Dubois observing.


Trade Overview

Leading California Export Countries
Source: US Department of Commerce 

Korea is a significant market for U.S. small and medium-sized companies, which make up a majority of U.S. businesses exporting to Korea.

Korea is a $1.3 trillion economy and its commercial relationship with the United States is largely complementary. In 2014, two-way trade between the two countries totaled over $114.1 billion. In 2014, U.S. goods exports to Korea were $44.5 billion, a 6.8 percent increase from 2013.

Korea is California's fifth largest export destination. California is among the top exporting states to Korea, making up 19 percent of U.S. exports to Korea. In 2014, California exported nearly $8.6 billion to Korea. Top products from California to Korea included non electrical machinery, computers and electronics, transportation equipment, and food manufactures.

Korea currently enjoys broad access to the U.S. market and the United States is one of Korea's larger exporting markets, importing 10.7 percent of Korea's worldwide exported goods. CIA World Factbook 

According to the most recent figures, U.S. foreign direct investment in Korea totaled roughly $32.8 billion and was concentrated largely in the manufacturing, banking, and wholesale trade sectors.  Korean foreign direct investment to the United States reached $32.5 billion.  ​

There are over 1.6 million Korean-Americans in the United States.  There is also a large population of Korean students studying at higher education institutions across the U.S.  Korean visitors enter the United States via the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

Characteristics of travellers from South Korea to California - 2012
Visit California

Korean President Park's New Administration
Korea's Government Reorganization and Implications for U.S. Business
U.S.-Korea Business Council, Spring 2013

U.S. Korea Connect's Exclusive Interview with Ambassador Ahn Ho-young
U.S. Korea Connect, July 2013

President Lee's Official State Visit and Joint Address to Congress

Text of Korean President Lee Myung-bak's address to the joint session on Thursday, October 13, 2011 as delivered.

Congressional Record on President Lee's Joint Meeting

Senate confirms new US ambassador to South Korea
The Hill, October 13, 2011

The State of the U.S.-ROK Alliance
A Korea Program Essay
Council on Foreign Relations, October 2011

U.S. Census Bureau Trade in Goods - South Korea

WTO Trade Statistics - Republic of Korea

Creating Opportunities Through Green Growth
 - Presentation at the U.S.-Korea Business Council Meeting, February 6, 2010

California and Korea : A Growing Partnership
Business Roundtable, June 2007

U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement

Statement by Ambassador Michael Froman on the Third Anniversary of KORUS
“The third anniversary of the US-Korea trade agreement offers an opportunity to take stock.  After battling economic headwinds, our trade with Korea is expanding, American industries are gaining market-share across the range of sectors from autos and chemicals to film and telecom; and this past year in particular we saw a surge in U.S. goods and services being sold in Korea. We now sell over a billion dollars’ worth of U.S.-made autos in Korea, an increase of 140% over the last 3 years. There is, of course, much more room for growth, given how closed Korea’s market was before this agreement. The numbers are encouraging, but this story is about more than numbers.  Because we have made trade with Korea easier, farmers and ranchers are exporting “Grown-in-America” cherries, beef, cheese, and other ag products at record levels; labs and studios are providing Koreans with more “Created-in-America” medicines, apps, and Internet services; and businesses of all shapes and sizes are better able to sell “Made-in-America” goods in Korea.  Families whose incomes are tied to trade are seeing a little more money in their pockets, and entrepreneurs who are looking to grow may see opportunity across the Pacific.”
USTR, March 13, 2015

U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement Shows Strong Results on Second Anniversary​
In the two years that this landmark agreement has been in effect, Korea has become the sixth-largest trading partner of the United States, exports of U.S. manufactured goods to Korea have increased, Koreans are buying more U.S. services than ever, and U.S. exports of a wide range of agricultural products have seen significant gains. KORUS has also improved Korea’s investment environment through strong provisions on intellectual property rights, services, and investment, supporting U.S. exports.
USTR, March 12, 2014

"The KORUS Advantage: A Basic Guide for US Companies to the Contents of the KORUS FTA" was recently published by the U.S.-Korea Business Council and AmCham Korea. This guide provides guidelines for U.S. businesses looking to take advantage of the KORUS FTA.

"KORUS FTA Facts and Figures" is a six-month overview of bilateral trade statistics since the KORUS FTA was implemented, released by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D.C.


The CalChamber was part of a broad-based coalition that waged a multi-year campaign to secure congressional passage of the U.S.-Korea FTA. Congress approved the FTA on October 12, 2011. The South Korean Parliament followed suit on November 22, 2011.

U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Now in Effect

U.S. Korea Connect
To help you take advantage of the US-Korea FTA, the Korean
Embassy in the US has introduced a new website at
updated LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.
U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Takes Effect Today
Today is the implementation date for the landmark U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the product of years of collaboration by the business community and both governments. The California Chamber of Commerce-supported FTA is the biggest free trade pact the United States has reached since entering the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.  CalChamber, March 15, 2012

March 15, 2012 is the implementation day for the landmark U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the product of years of collaboration by the business community and both governments.

The California Chamber of Commerce-supported FTA is the biggest free trade pact the United States has reached since entering the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. 

Recognition goes to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for his leadership in getting the U.S.-Korea FTA to the finish line.

The United States has welcomed the newly appointed South Korean Ambassador to the United States, Choi Young-jin.

His Excellency Duk-Soo Han, former Prime Minister and Ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Korea, was instrumental in garnering support for the U.S.-Korea agreement. Han spoke to the CalChamber on several occasions, as did the Consuls General of Korea in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The United States and the Republic of Korea announced on February 2, 2006 that they were beginning negotiations toward a bilateral FTA, with talks expected to take up to a year. Although the negotiations concluded on April 1, 2007, nearly five years passed before the FTA could be implemented.
Implementation of the U.S.-Korea FTA will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and services, promote economic growth, and enhance trade between the United States and Korea.

This comprehensive agreement was approved by the U.S. House (278-151) and the U.S. Senate (83-15) on October 12, 2011.

U.S. - Korea FTAFinal Votes
Ayes: Becerra, Berman, Bilbray, Bono Mack,
 Calvert, Campbell, Costa, Davis, Denham, 
Dreier, Eshoo, Gallegly, Herger, Issa, Lewis,
 Lungren, Matsui, McCarthy, McClintock, 
McKeon, Miller, Nunes, Pelosi, Royce, Sanchez (Loretta), Schiff, Thompson, Boxer, Feinstein 

Noes: Baca, Bass, Capps, Cardoza, Chu, Farr,
Filner, Garamendi, Honda, Hunter, Lee, Lofgren,
McNerney, Miller, Napolitano, Richardson, Rohrabacher, Roybal-Allard, Sanchez (Linda), Sherman, Speier, Stark, Waters,
Waxman, Woolsey

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that with full implementation of the KORUS FTA, U.S. goods exports to Korea will likely increase by $9.7-$10.9 billion and U.S. imports of goods from Korea will likely increase by $6.4-$6.9 billion, enhancing our already balanced trade partnership.

CalChamber Links

CalChamber Position

The California Chamber of Commerce, in keeping with long-standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business. New multilateral, sectoral and regional trade agreements ensure that the United States may continue to gain access to world markets, resulting in an improved economy and additional employment of Americans.

Reasons for Position

  • The U.S.- Korea FTA will send a strong signal that the United States intends to remain heavily engaged in the region for a long time to come in business, economics, security and international politics.
  • The FTA will strengthen a 50-year-old alliance between the United States and South Korea, while reinforcing the economic and political reforms South Korea has made over the past decade.

WEST Program

The WEST (Work, English Study, and Travel) Program is a unique exchange program that provides an opportunity for Korean university students and recent graduates to come to the United States for a period of 18 months to study English and to participate in professional level internships of up to 12 months.

This program, which was agreed to by Korean President Lee and U.S. President Bush in 2008, was launched late last year and is fully supported by the Korean and U.S. governments. 

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs has designated the Korea-U.S. Science Cooperation Center in Vienna, Virginia (KUSCO) as a sponsoring organization of the WEST Program.  If your company or organization would like learn more about this program, please visit www.kusco.org/west or contact Jim Kelman at jkelman@kusco.org.

2010 Asia Trade Mission

Governor Schwarzenegger announced in July 2010 that he would lead a delegation of California business leaders and key State of California government officials to Asia in September 2010. Asia is a dynamic and growing market for California products, produce and intellectual property. The dates of the trade mission were September 9, 2010 to September 15, 2010. The delegation started in Hangzhou and Shanghai, traveled to Tokyo and ended in Seoul. This trade mission was successful and will bring many economic and cultural benefits to the people of California.



CalChamber Trade Mission Blog


2010 Trade Mission to Asia
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
September 9 - 15, 2010

Tokyo ~ Seoul

Click on a city to see the itinerary

California Business Delegation

CalChamber Joins Governor on
Successful Asia Trade Mission 

CalChamber, September 21, 2010 

Recent Events

Korean Ambassador Highlights Trade Agreement at CalChamber Forum
(September 8, 2010)  Final approval of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will create American jobs, His Excellency Duk-Soo Han, ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Korea, told a California Chamber of Commerce gathering last week.

Click Here for Full Article

Click Here to Watch Video
CalChamber Hosts Mayor of Gangnam, Korea Korean Ambassador Urges Support for Free Trade Agreement

CalChamber President Allan Zaremberg exchanges business cards with the Mayor Maeng Jung Ju of Gangnam, Korea 

(January 31, 2008) CalChamber President Allan Zaremberg exchanges business cards with the Mayor Maeng Jung Ju of Gangnam, Korea on January 31, 2008. Accompanying the Korean delegation is Ronnie Guyer (center) field representative for Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Costa Mesa).

His Excellency Lee Tae-sik, Korean Ambassador to the United States. 

(August 29, 2007) The California Chamber of Commerce yesterday hosted His Excellency Lee Tae-sik, Korean Ambassador to the United States, at an international luncheon forum where he discussed the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), currently pending before Congress, and enumerated the benefits of the FTA for California businesses. 

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