Trump administration seeks to renegotiate South Korea trade deal

Trevor Jackson
July 14, 2017

"Since KORUS went into effect, our trade deficit in goods with Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion (11.6 billion euros) to $27.6 billion, while United States goods exports have actually gone down", Lighthizer said in a statement. In particular, "The special joint committee can consider an amendment to the KORUS FTA or revise the agreement and interpret provisions", the USTR added.

"We think there is a higher chance that the two countries will make some changes rather than renegotiating the whole agreement since Washington used terms like revision and modification instead of renegotiation", said the Korea International Trade Association in a press release on Thursday.

The official said that although the Korean government is aware that the USA, in fact, has a trade deficit with Korea, the two sides must figure out whether such deficit is due to the bilateral trade deal.

Lighthizer called for the Joint Committee meeting to be held in Washington, DC next month, on a date to be agreed upon by the parties, the statement said.

The administration focuses on trade in goods, like airplanes and washing machines. "The renegotiation table opens when the two countries agree to do so". The statement also claimed the results of the FTA were different from what the Obama administration "sold" to the American people as he urged its approval.

"We will dispatch senior officials to the United States and will discuss with our USA counterparts the details on and agenda and time frame".

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Ever since Trump made public his intention to alter the terms of the FTA previous year, referring to it as a "horrible deal", there has been widespread disparities among experts from both sides.

With the South Korea deal in particular, the administration likely aims to win economic benefits that would go over well with Trump's base while discouraging Moon from taking too conciliatory an approach with North Korea, the other issue topping the agenda at the summit.

The bilateral negotiations sought by the US trade representative must in principle begin within 30 days. According to the Blue House, many scholars cite structural problems in Seoul and Washington's economies as the source of the trade deficit in the U.S. The Blue House even said there are contradicting views even within the U.S. on the FTA.

In order to amend a trade agreement with other countries, the USA administration should notify Congress 90 days before the commencement of the negotiation and report negotiation goals and strategy to the Congress 30 days before the commencement of the negotiation. At the same time, imports from South Korea have increased by about 23%.

The remarks came as an apparent response to a letter from USTR Robert Lighthizer delivered earlier in the day to South Korean Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan.

The US government officially began to demand negotiations on amending the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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