Published: Tue, August 22, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

S. Korea Says No To US Request To Discuss Renegotiating FTA

S. Korea Says No To US Request To Discuss Renegotiating FTA

"Both sides have reached no agreement", Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said after the daylong talks ended in Seoul Tuesday.

South Korea's top trade negotiator said Tuesday that Seoul will not discuss renegotiation of the free trade agreement with the USA without first looking into what is really causing the US trade imbalance.

In 2016, South Korea's vehicle exports to the United States stood at $16.2 billion, while its imports of US cars were $1.74 billion, a trade ministry official said based on data from the Korea Trade International Association.

"We are not saying that we are better off not having the FTA agreement at all, I think both sides agree that the nations would be better off having a trade deal", Kim said.

South Korea has also said it first needs to be established whether the USA deficit is a result of other structural issues in US industries.

Too many American workers haven't benefited from the accord, and negotiations are an opportunity to address issues such as long-standing requests by the United States that South Korea address "burdensome" rules that exclude U.S. firms, Mr Lighthizer said in a statement. The U.S. runs a trade surplus with South Korea in services such as banking and tourism, estimated at $10.7 billion in 2016.

"Simply put, the Korus created the ideal environment for the U.S. beef industry to thrive in South Korea", said the heads of three leading beef-exporter lobby groups-the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the North American Meat Institute and the U.S. Meat Export Federation-in a July 27 letter to the government.

While Tami Overby, senior vice president for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce, and a strong supporter of the FTA, has referred to Kim as "one of the smartest trade negotiators alive", the trade negotiator has drawn some criticism from the local business community for his alleged pro-business attitude and pro-US stance taken during initial FTA negotiations with the US. "We made our position clear that investigation, analysis and evaluation of the impact of the Korea-U.S. FTA must be preceded". Kim said a year ago that the deal was a "slam dunk-shot" for the US. South Korean vehicle exports to the USA last year, however, were 10 times higher at $16 billion. The Trump administration is conducting a probe that could result in broad barriers against global steel imports.

Trump, in an interview in April, had branded the trade agreement a "horrible deal" and indicated he would renegotiate or terminate the accord.

"The U.S. needs South Korea's cooperation more than ever to address North Korea", he said.

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