US Officially Requests Negotiations over Korea-US FTA Revision

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

The US Trade Representative (USTR) informed the South Korean government on that, under the direction of President Donald Trump, the US requested a special joint committee to be held on the Korea-US FTA to remove barriers to US trade and consider the need to revise the agreement on July 12 (local time). In particular, "The special joint committee can consider an amendment to the KORUS FTA or revise the agreement and interpret provisions," the USTR added.

"Since the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) went into effect, the US’s deficit in trade with Korea has doubled from US$ 13.2 billion to US$ 27.6 billion, and US commodity exports actually shrank," said Robert E. Lighthizer., the head of United States Trade Representative (USTR). “It is quite different from what the previous administration explained to Americans, asking the treaty to be ratified."

"The special joint committee will deal with important trade imbalance issues and provide opportunities for the US to solve problems related to access to the Korean export market,” said Lighthizer in a letter to Joo Hyung-hwan, minister of trade, industry and energy of Korea. “Although Korea and the US are important allies and trading partners, free, fair and balanced trade relations are needed for more advanced bilateral relations.”

Together with this, Lighthizer demanded that a special joint committee meeting be held in Washington, DC next month. Under the present Korea-US FTA agreement, if one party asks for a meeting of the special joint committee, the other party should, in principle, respond within 30 days. However, the Korean government may demand that the meeting be delayed somewhat, citing the fact that the position of the trade minister is vacant.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy confirmed in the press release on July 13 that it received the USTR’s letter requesting convening a special session of the Korea-US FTA Joint Committee through the Korean Embassy in the US.

"We will clarify its position to check whether or not the Korea-US FTA is the cause of the trade imbalance between the two countries by jointly investigating, analyzing and evaluating the effects of the Korea-US FTA, as we proposed during the Korea-US summit at the end of June,” said the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, adding, “The US government is now asking not for a renegotiation to review and change the whole agreement from the beginning, but for starting negotiations to decide whether to revise the agreement, a Korean government official explained.

The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) also said, "Considering the use of the words ‘revision or modification’ rather than renegotiation in the letter, some revision carries more weight than renegotiation,"

In order to amend a trade agreement with other countries, the US 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.

Source: The Business Korea

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