Washington seeks to renegotiate free trade deal with South Korea

14 July, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Irene Delgado
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"I believe that this session and follow-on negotiations will provide an opportunity to review progress on the implementation of the agreement, resolve several problems regarding market access in Korea for USA exports, and, most importantly, address our significant trade imbalance", Lighthizer said in the letter.

More than 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed in the South to protect it against nuclear-armed North Korea, which last week for the first time successfully tested a missile that could reach Alaska.

Following the U.S.' request for a meeting regarding a possible revision of the bilateral free trade pact, Seoul says a correlation between the trade pact and trade imbalance should be verified first. "It is critical that we achieve real progress that fosters a truly fair and level playing field, and a more balanced trade relationship".

In a press release by the office of the US Trade Representative, Washington highlighted that since the KORUS FTA went into effect, the US' trade deficit in goods with Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, while US goods exports have gone down.

"We will meet and discuss mutual interests and concerns".

But the ministry clarified a task force team for altering the free trade pact requires Seoul's consent since the U.S. is calling for "amendments and modifications", not "renegotiations". "But a joint committee doesn't mean that the two parties have started renegotiations", said Yeo Han-koo, a director general at the ministry.

Specifying the trade status of the two countries, Moon also reportedly said, "In the past five years since the FTA was effectuated, our auto exports to the United States in fact decreased".

South Korea is considering the request for a special session of a joint FTA committee, Cho said.

The South Korean foreign ministry also stressed that Seoul and Washington should consider revising the trade accord only after reaching a consensus on the need for a change. While Lighthizer's letter was sent to Seoul's current minister of trade, industry and energy, the current administration is trying to establish a new trade negotiations office, headed by a new trade minister via a government reorganization.

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In a meeting with his aides the same day, President Moon Jae-in was quoted as saying, "Let's not leave anything to prediction and be prepared for all possibilities".

"The pact has an article about the repeal of the agreement". "But, the KORUS FTA is also important for American companies".

The US demand came as no surprise as Trump has long vowed to improve the deal.

The decision comes as US President Donald Trump had earlier called the agreement a awful deal and a one-way street.

Mr Trump in an interview in April was more blunt, calling it a "horrible deal" and a "one-way street".

South Korean officials say the deal has been mutually beneficial.

Trump has opposed multilateral agreements and frequently lashes out at countries that have large trade surpluses with the US.

According to reports, the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) became law in March 2012. Many factors, not just the terms of a trade deal, influence a trade deficit.

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