South Korea and the United States will hold their second round of discussions aimed to open talks to amend terms for the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Washington D.C. next week after making little headway in the first meeting in Seoul.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy said it sent a letter to its U.S. Trade Representative proposing the second special session of the Joint Committee on October 4.
South Korean trade minister Kim Hyeon-jong, during his visit to Washington on September 20 for a trade ministers’ meeting, proposed the second special session to his U.S. counterpart Robert Lighthizer.
Under the bilateral FTA between South Korea and the U.S., one party should respond to a request for a special session from the other party within 30 days unless otherwise agreed.
In their first special session held to consider matters affecting the FTA, including possible amendments or modifications, South Korea suggested a joint research and analysis on the economic effect of the free trade deal, whereas the U.S. claimed that the pact should be adjusted in view of its increasing trade deficit.
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to terminate the bilateral free trade agreement calling it a “horrible deal,” but no actions have followed as a breakdown in the symbolic pact between the two traditional allies can send a wrong message about their alliance at a time North Korea has been making deadly threats with nuclear weapons and missiles.
Seoul is expected to reiterate its position of holding a joint study first on the economic impact before progressing further with the talks.
By Seok Min-soo
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