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S Korea Rejects US Calls For FTA Renegotiation

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

23 August 2017

South Korea and the United States have failed to reach agreement on the way forward with regard to their existing free trade deal, which US President Donald Trump has criticized and vowed to amend.

In July, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued a request to renegotiate the deal during the August talks. "This session and the 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 US exports, and, most importantly, address our significant trade imbalance," he wrote at the time.

However, following a video-conference held on August 22, it emerged that the Korean authorities have declined to renegotiate the agreement before a full joint study into the trade imbalance cited by the US Government has been conducted.

"We did not agree to the unilateral proposal from the US to amend the Korea-US FTA," South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyung Chong was quoted by the Associated Press as stating in a briefing following the video conference. "We made our position clear that investigation, analysis, and evaluation of the impact of the Korea-US FTA must be preceded," he concluded.

Ambassador Lighthizer reiterated the US position, stating that: "The United States and Korea have an important economic relationship. Unfortunately, too many American workers have not benefited from the agreement. USTR has long pressed the Korean Government to address burdensome regulations which often exclude US firms or artificially set prices for American intellectual property. This negotiation offers us an opportunity to resolve these and other barriers."

He further stated that talks on the matter are ongoing.

TAGS: free trade agreement (FTA) | Korea, South | United States | trade

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