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California, U.S.A. - Coinciding with the enactment of the Korean and United States Free Trade Agreement on March 15, 2012, Wente Vineyards of Livermore Valley, California, has found a way to celebrate the biggest trade accord in almost 20 years. Wente Vineyards Restaurant Executive Chef, Matt Greco, arrives in Seoul on May 4, 2012 and will spend 10 days sharing his culinary expertise with residents of Seoul as Guest Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Seoul.
Central to the Free Trade Agreement signed on March 15, 2012 is a reduction in tariffs that will eliminate about 95% of taxes that are extracted on imports and exports on numerous products, including American wines, shipped to Korea.
“I am very excited to have the 15% tariff immediately removed on American wine exports to Korea,” says Michael Parr, Vice President of International Sales for Wente Vineyards, California’s oldest family owned winery.
The elimination of this tariff puts American wineries in a stronger position to compete with Chilean and European wineries that engaged in similar trade agreements with Korea over the past few years. Koreans are increasingly becoming sophisticated wine consumers and are eager to explore a range of International wines.
Parr states, “American wines are readily accepted in Korea based on agreeable taste profiles, relatively easy labels to decipher and a familiarity with American lifestyles due to the number of Koreans that have traveled or studied in the United States. The new Free Trade Agreement will only increase their thirst for American products (from wine to electronics, machinery and financial services) that will now be available to them at more affordable prices.”
Sharing the culinary talents of Wente Vineyard’s Chef Greco while sipping a fine glass of California wine with the citizens of Seoul seems like an appropriate way to launch this monumental trade agreement and to celebrate the two countries long stand alliance. Parr exclaims, “Do I see a bright future for our wine business in Korea? You bet!”
About the Trade Accord
U.S. wine exports to Korea, 90% from California, were more than 500,000 cases valued over$11 million in revenues to wineries in 2011. Wine exports are anticipated to grow at least 25% over the next few years.Korea is now the only Asian country to have implemented free trade agreements with the world’s two largest markets (U.S and U.E.).
California long had been the second biggest exporter of wine to Korea, behind France. However, Chile surpassed the Golden State in 2005 after the South American nation signed a trade agreement with Korea that sharply lowered import duties. The European Union signed its own treaty with Korea, which became effective on July 1, boosting the likelihood of increased wine sales.