US and South Korea Trade Negotiators Meet In Seoul Next Week
23 August, 2017, 00:32
Korea's trade minister Kim Hyun-chong and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, kicked off the discussions here in Seoul, via a video-conference.
South Korea proposed that experts from the two nations conduct a study on the effects of their trade pact and the cause of USA trade deficits with South Korea.
"We told the United States that it's necessary to figure out the reasons for the trade imbalance through a joint study to research, analyze and assess the effect of the FTA", Kim said. "Negotiations that benefit one side only are simply not possible and can't be maintained", Kim said.
Washington's proposal is in line with the "America First" policy of US President Donald Trump, who has long urged a modification of the free trade agreement with South Korea.
Talking to media in Seoul South Korean Trade Minister, Kim Hyung-chong said Seoul has proposed a joint study with Washington to evaluate the impact of bilateral trade deal and the cause of the US trade deficit.
The two sides found they had different views on the impact of the free trade deal and could not reach any agreement during the talks, he added.
"I think it's better that we maintain the agreement because it's a win-win", said Kim during his meeting with the Ministry of SMEs. But the USA sees it as one of the main reasons for the trade imbalance.
In 2016, South Korea's vehicle exports to the United States stood at $16.2 billion, while its imports of USA cars were $1.74 billion, a trade ministry official said based on data from the Korea Trade International Association. South Korean auto exports to the US last year, however, were 10 times higher at $16 billion. In addition, the Trump administration is focused more on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
Korean researchers who monitor trade with the USA say Washington may want to make tweaks to Korus FTA, rather than conducting a deep negotiation, given the conflicting interests of individual industries.
South Korea is the US' seventh-largest trading partner, while the US is South Korea's second-largest partner after China. Washington is likely to go on the offensive, with the USA having requested the meeting back in early-July, to review its perceived trade imbalance with Korea. In the five years since its implementation, Korea's surplus with the U.S.in the trade of goods doubled from eleven.six billion dollars in 2011, to over 23 billion in 2016.
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