South Korea rejects 'one-sided' USA demand on trade pact

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.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong will begin the talks with a videoconference meeting on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

South Korea's top trade negotiator said Tuesday that Seoul will not discuss renegotiation of the free trade agreement with the US without first looking into what is really causing the USA trade imbalance.

The first round of meetings has drawn wide speculation that joint committee on August 22 was the start of Korea and the US entering into an intense FTA showdown, given US President Donald Trump's multiple public denouncements of KORUS and vowing to amend the trade deal. But the USA sees it as one of the main reasons for the trade imbalance. South Korea also believes that the FTA is not the cause of the US trade imbalance, and that other, complex factors in the global economy are to blame.

The value of USA goods exported to Korea fell 0.03 percent from $43.5 billion in 2011 to $42.3 billion in 2016, the report said.

The talks were at the request of Washington, which considers that the deal has increased its trade deficit with the Asian country, reports Efe news.

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"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. United States figures indicate its goods deficit with South Korea was US$27.7 billion (S$37.7 billion) previous year.

The American auto and steel industries have expressed support for Mr. Trump and his protectionist policies. The countries' officials had held talks in Seoul, in which Washington hoped there would be discussions to amendments or modification of the free trade deal agreed to 5 years ago.

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.

Seoul maintains that the deal has been mutually beneficial, with exports of American beef to South Korea rising, saying last month that it would not necessarily renegotiate terms.

Trump's push to revise the deal is part of his broader drive to reduce his nation's trade deficits with various nations, such as his pursuit of a full renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"The U.S. needs South Korea's cooperation more than ever to address North Korea", he said.

  • Adam Floyd