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South Korea, US Fail To Agree On FTA Terms

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

15 November 2010


It was disclosed during a joint press conference by the United States’ President Obama and South Korea’s President Lee in Seoul that recent negotiations to conclude the terms of the proposed United States-South Korea free trade agreement (KORUS FTA) have been unsuccessful.

Originally signed in 2007, President Obama had asked the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to resolve the outstanding issues in the KORUS FTA by the time of the G-20 summit in Seoul on November 11 and 12, with a view to presenting it to the US Congress early next year. The terms that have been the subject of much discussion in the US include the unrestricted imports into South Korea of autos and beef.

Various discussions on the KORUS FTA between the USTR and South Korean ministers had been on-going in Seoul since November 4. Both sides had agreed not to divulge any details of those talks while they were being held, but it is now apparent that they have failed to bridge the gaps between the two sides.

As President Lee said at the press conference, with regard to the KORUS FTA, “President Obama and I agreed that we will give my trade minister and the USTR more time so that they can finalize the technical issues. And President Obama and I will continue to work together so that we can have a mutually acceptable agreement at the earliest possible date.”

President Obama added that “we discussed the need to keep moving forward towards a KORUS FTA, which would create jobs and prosperity in both our countries. We believe that such an agreement, if done right, can be a win-win for our people.”

“It could be a win for the US because it would increase the export of American goods by some USD10bn, and billions more in services, supporting more than 70,000 jobs back home. It could be a win for South Korea, with more access to the American economy, which would support jobs, raise living standards, and offer more choices for Korean consumers.”

“So we have asked our teams to work tirelessly in the coming days and weeks to get this completed, and we are confident that we will do so. And President Lee in fact asked his team to come to Washington in the near future to continue these discussions.”

TAGS: tax | free trade agreement (FTA) | law | tariffs | agreements | manufacturing | Korea, South | United States | trade

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