US, S. Korea Begin Kicking Tires On Trade Deal Retooling

US, S. Korea Begin Kicking Tires On Trade Deal Retooling

US, S. Korea Begin Kicking Tires On Trade Deal Retooling

"It's very hard to predict the first round of negotiations", Kim said in statements after concluding the video conference. "From my point of view, there's no agreement regarding negotiations" to revise the deal.

Seoul could not concede to Washington's "one-sided" demands, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong told reporters following the special session of a joint committee on their bilateral free trade agreement.

In a media release, a top South Korean negotiator, Trade minister, Kim Hyung-chong clarified 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 session was attended by representatives of the Trade Ministry, as well as USTR Chief of Staff Jamieson Greer and Michael Beeman, assistant USA trade representative for Japan, Korea and APEC.

"We were unable to reach any consensus", said Kim, during a press briefing at the Central Government Complex in Seoul. Countries such as Japan that have large trade surpluses with the U.S. are watching on with interest.

President Donald Trump has said he would either renegotiate or terminate the deal, which he said has led to American job losses.

The trade issue has emerged just as the USA and South Korea need each other's support to fight together against North Korea's nuclear threat. KORUS also helps the United States on a strategic level as China's economic and political influence grows in the region. The U.S. had a trade deficit of $28 billion with South Korea previous year.

South Korea told the US that the absence of tariffs let American vehicles surpass Japanese models to rank second in imported autos since 2015, according to a source with knowledge of the talks.

Last month, Washington issued a request to convene a special session of the Joint Committee under the KORUS to negotiate amendments to the trade pact.

Mr. Moon and others on the Korean side say the deal-which has removed 95% of tariffs on goods over the past five years, with remaining duties to be phased out over the next 10 years-has offset the global slowdown in trade and increased commerce between the USA and South Korea. On the other end, Seoul is trying tone down speculation the meeting will be a hostile affair, saying the talks will be a broad "evaluation" that includes highlighting of the FTA's mutual benefits rather than focusing exclusively on its shortcomings.

The bilateral accord was initially negotiated during then-US president George W. Bush's administration in 2007, but that version was scrapped and renegotiated by then-US president Barack Obama's administration three years later.

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