Donald Trump seeks talks to overhaul South Korean trade deal
14 July, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
"I request the convening of a special session of the Joint Committee soon in Washington, D.C., to consider matters affecting the operation of the Agreement, including possible amendments and modifications", U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrote in the letter delivered to the Korean embassy in Washington.
As explained during a summit between President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump in June, the two sides "need to closely analyze and evaluate the effects of the (existing) South Korea-U.S. FTA after it went into effect and talk about whether the South Korea-U.S. FTA is the cause of the trade imbalance between the two countries", said the spokesman, Cho June-hyuck.
Trump has described Korus as a "horrible" deal for the U.S., and in a letter to South Korea's trade minister, Lighthizer said there were "problems regarding market access in Korea for United States exports" and Washington wanted to see a "more balanced trade relationship".
The ministry will send a senior official to the U.S. to discuss the agenda and timing of the special committee meeting, it said in a statement.
The spokesman predicted the USA will make specific demands during the special Joint Committee meeting, including a revision of the FTA.
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.
The bilateral negotiations sought by the US trade representative must in principle begin within 30 days.
During an early July meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said he wanted to renegotiate what he called a "rough" trade deal between the two countries.
However, the ministry stressed that a joint committee does mean bilateral renegotiations have started, as creating a task force to alter the FTA requires Seoul's consent.
In his statement on Korus, Lighthizer said: "President Trump continues to keep his promises to lower our trade deficit and negotiate better trade deals for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses".
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"This is quite different from what the previous administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this agreement".
"We will send a senior official to the U.S. and discuss detailed schedules and agenda items with the USTR", it added. While the USA continues to blame the country for its deepening trade deficit, Korea argues the trade agreement is mutually beneficial.
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.
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.
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