Friday, 21 July, 2017

Trump administration seeks to renegotiate South Korea trade deal

Robert E. Lighthizer head of United States Trade Representative demanded that a special joint committee meeting be held in Washington DC next month US to renegotiate Korea trade deal
Saul Franklin | 14 July, 2017, 00:42

"Since KORUS went into effect, our trade deficit in goods with Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, while USA goods exports have actually gone down", he said. Trump in a press conference after his first summit talks with Korean President Moon Jae-in late last month said the two sides would embark on renegotiation and previously called the bilateral FTA a "horrible deal".

According to the Trade Ministry, Korea's trade surplus with the United States was $11.6 billion in 2011, a year before the agreement went into effect in 2012.

"For many, many years, the United States has suffered through massive trade deficits.we'll be changing that", Trump said during the June 30 meeting with Moon.

The move reflects US President Donald Trump's protectionist criticism of past trade deals and his vow to put "America First".

Citing that the trade pact requires consent from both sides for any decision to be made, Cho noted that the joint committee will be able to decide to open negotiations for revising the FTA only when South Korea agrees with the U.S.

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 USA in fact decreased". It called for a special session of the countries' joint FTA committee to discuss issues affecting the operation of the agreement "including possible amendments and modifications".

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The ministry said it would like to delay the meeting since the post of chief trade negotiator for Korea is vacant due to the delay in appointments by the new administration of Moon Jae-in.

"This is quite different from what the previous administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this agreement", he said.

"We will meet and discuss mutual interests and concerns. So the meeting will have to be held after the new trade minister is appointed, and I believe the US side will certainly understand that too", the official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.

At the time the FTA was set, President Barack Obama predicted it would increase US exports to South Korea, the world's 11th-biggest economy.

Trump railed against trade agreements on the campaign trail, blaming them for the loss of American jobs as he courted support from working class voters, while supporters say that removing barriers to business increases prosperity overall. "Although Korea and the USA are important allies and trading partners, free, fair and balanced trade relations are needed for more advanced bilateral relations".

Meanwhile, the USA enjoys a growing trade surplus in services with South Korea, due partly to rising intellectual-property royalties paid to American companies.

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