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S. Korea's industry minister to meet with his U.S. counterpart soon

South Korea's industry minister said he will meet with his U.S. counterpart later this year to discuss pending trade and other economy-related issues between the two countries.

"We are in talks with the U.S. side to set the schedule and agenda before meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross later this year," Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Un-gyu said in a press session held Monday. "The detailed agenda will be decided later."

   Seoul and Washington have been on a tightrope over revising the free trade agreement between the two countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed the pact for bringing in the massive trade deficit with South Korea and even mentioned a possible withdrawal of the FTA, which came into effect in 2012.

But South Korea has called for a joint study of the agreement's impact on the two economies.

The trade volume between the two countries increased to US$109.6 billion in 2016 from $100.8 billion in 2011, with South Korea's trade surplus reaching some $27 billion last year, up from $11.6 billion tallied five years earlier.

The South Korean minister has said that it is considering various possibilities regarding the FTA with the United States, and calmly and fairly responding to the pressure from Washington.

Paik also said he will take a prudent approach to dealing with the ongoing trade tensions over China's apparent retaliatory steps against Seoul's decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system.

The Beijing government banned travel agencies in its country from selling group tours to South Korea and intensified pressure on Korean companies doing business on Chinese soil.

Recent reports showed that the Seoul government is considering bringing the issue before the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming that such Chinese measures have caused substantial damage to South Korean businesses.

"We have to make a decision to file a lawsuit to the WTO after looking into various aspects like the possibility of winning and its effects," said the minister. "But if we should take action, there will be no hesitation."

Source: Yonhap News

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