U.S. Trade Rep Touts Beefy South Korea Deal

"Nineteen minutes to spare": A dramatic last-minute victory united America and South Korea Monday, as the two countries arrived at a historic economic agreement. Ambassador Susan Schwab, U.S. trade representative, joined CNBC's Erin Burnett to describe the "ambitious outcome."

U.S.-South Korea Free-Trade Pact
U.S.-South Korea Free-Trade Pact   

Schwab noted that ironing out America's first free trade deal in northeast Asia was "harder than we thought" -- but don't blame Democratic opposition to the Bush Administration. Instead, she cited the challenge of interweaving "two very complex economies," noting that the pact is "probably the fastest free-trade agreement we've ever negotiated."

A mere 19 minutes later, and the deal would have been prohibited by the deadline ending President George W. Bush's "fast-track" trade-deal authority.

As to the benefits, Schwab pointed out that South Korea is the world's tenth-largest economy, and is already the U.S.' seventh-biggest trading partner; the two nations currently enjoy trade of more than $70 billion -- and the pact could add another $20 billion. On the short list to gain from the deal: U.S. ranchers. South Korea would phase out its 40% tariffs on U.S. beef -- after it drops its outright ban on U.S. beef imports.