Rep. Gerry Connolly is calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to emphasize the importance of a free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea to the high-tech community in Northern Virginia.
Connolly’s statements come after a letter from McDonnell which had emphasized what the state’s agriculture industry could get out of such an agreement. The conversation takes place as McDonnell embarks on an 11-day mission to Asia, including a visit to Seoul.
But the bottom line might be a rare topic of agreement for the men — both say that approval of a free trade arrangement could be key for the Virginia economy and should be approved by Congress.
In his letter to Connolly, who is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Korea, McDonnell urged the Fairfax congressman to “continue to work to make” the agreement a reality.
“The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement will benefit almost every industry and sector, providing more transparency and fair treatment for Virginia and U.S. companies,” he wrote.
He said agricultural exports stand to receive particular benefits from the agreement, indicating that 2/3 of Virginia’s agricultural exports to Korea would become duty-free with the approval of a free trade agreement.
In a statement in response, Connolly said he agreed that agriculture would benefit but added that possible benefits to the high-tech world shouldn’t be ignored.
“With Northern Virginia second only to Silicon Valley in its concentration of technology companies, it is clear that Virginia would be a major beneficiary of the KORUS FTA,” he said.
The agreement was signed by both countries in 2007 but it awaits congressional approval.