Hoeven Updates Media on U.S.-Asian Trade and Security Mission

Presses for U.S. Korea Free Trade Agreement, Encourages India Trade Mission

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today briefed media on his recent trip to Asia with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to promote trade and review U.S.-Asian Security issues. The Congressional delegation on Saturday completed their visit to South Korea and India, as well as Afghanistan, where they met with President Hamid Karzai, General David Petraeus, and U.S. and NATO troops. 

In addition to Hoeven and McConnell, the congressional delegation included Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary; Senator Robert Portman (R-OH), former U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), who serves with Hoeven on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. 

Senator Hoeven’s presentation, which he delivered today at the North Dakota Trade Office in Fargo, is available at the following link: www.hoeven.senate.gov


In South Korea, Hoeven met with President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan to promote the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement now awaiting ratification by the President and approval in the U.S. Senate.  

The proposed agreement will eliminate or reduce Korean tariffs on U.S. autos, manufactured goods, and agricultural products to South Korea’s 49 million consumers. Ratification of the pact will eliminate more than 85 percent of the tariffs between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and is expected to increase U.S. exports to that country by more than $10 billion. It will also open new markets for American services in South Korea, including energy.  

“The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement will increase the level of commerce between the United States and Korea, which has a $1 trillion economy and is already our eighth largest trading partner,” Hoeven said. “From the U.S. perspective, it eliminates tariffs and opens Korean markets to more American products and services, including agricultural and manufactured goods, which will benefit North Dakota. Most importantly for our state and our nation, increased trade with Korea will help to create new opportunities for American businesses and new jobs for American workers at a time when they are greatly needed.” 


Senator Encourages Trade Mission to India through the N.D. Trade Office 

Hoeven discussed ways to enhance trade relations between North Dakota and India with Indian Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidambaram and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, as well as a group of high-level Indian business leaders. India has a large and expanding middle class of approximately 50 million people, which is estimated to grow ten-fold by 2025. It also has a well-educated workforce and a growing demand for U.S. goods.  

At a meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), an organization similar to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hoeven proposed organizing a U.S.-India trade delegation between CII and the North Dakota Trade Office to partner North Dakota and Indian companies led by ND Trade Office Director Dean Gorder and Hoeven’s State Director and former Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle. 

“With 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world,” Hoeven said. “With an average economic growth rate of about 9 percent, the country’s growing consumer base represents an enormous market for American and North Dakotan goods and services. Creating a better environment for mutual trade could generate real business opportunities and jobs for American workers.”  


Hoeven and the delegation met in Kabul, Afghanistan this week with Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan General David Petraeus; U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry; and other top government and military leaders to discuss the progress of the war in Afghanistan. 

Both General Petraeus and Ambassador Eikenberry indicated clearly in their briefings that the objective in Afghanistan is to build Afghan forces to a level where they can secure and govern themselves. The current timeline calls for the drawdown of U.S. and NATO troops between the summer of 2011 and 2014, based on conditions on the ground. Following the briefing, Senator Hoeven had opportunity to meet with President Karzai to discuss this timeline and the president expressed his commitment to achieving it.  

In addition, Hoeven reviewed the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) outside the city, where he met with U.S. soldiers, including native North Dakotans. The Center’s mission is to recruit, equip, and train the Afghan National Army.