As I reported the other day, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was bound for South Korea to talk business, particularly the railway business. But, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, he also talked up the pending KORUS FTA and trans-Pacific trade in general:
As part of his trade mission in Asia, the governor signed an agreement Tuesday "to increase collaboration on trade and technology" with the country's most populous province, Gyeonggi-do, where Seoul and South Korea's other major cities are located.Um, point of information: Seoul is not so much located in Kyŏnggi-do Province as it is surrounded by the donut-shaped administrative unit. Which is why we Seoulites try not to piss off the Kyŏnggi-doers. (And "South Korea's other major cities" include Pusan, Taegu, Taejŏn, Kwangju, etc., which are nowhere near Kyŏnggi-do; sounds like someone at the Chronicle needs to do a bit of homework.)
This morning (Seoul time), Schwarzenegger was scheduled to call for ratification of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement at a breakfast meeting of U.S. and South Korean business executives there.
The long-stalled agreement has been a top agenda item of Bay Area trade conferences I've attended in the past couple of weeks. South Korea is California's fifth-largest trading partner. The state's annual exports to South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, grew to approximately $6 billion last year. That includes $500 million of agricultural products - beef, rice, nuts, oranges - according to the California Farm Bureau.
"We are talking about a market of 50 million increasingly affluent consumers who really like and are willing to pay for high-quality, safe agricultural products, and that is something that California has to offer," said Dan Sumner, director of UC Davis' Agricultural Issues Center.
Anyway, the Gubernator wouldn't be a bad person to have in your corner as you're lobbying Washington to pass the FTA. And making nice with him so that your trains might get accepted for California's high-speed rail project isn't a bad move either.