Seoul readies to defend 'win-win' trade deal against Trump pressure

Posted July 14, 2017

In a formal letter addressed to Joo Hyung-hwan, the minister of trade, industry and energy, Lighthizer called for the special Joint Committee Meeting to take place in Washington, adding that that U.S. has been suffering from a persistent deficit in goods trade with Korea.

"The special joint committee will deal with important trade imbalance issues and provide opportunities for the U.S. 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.

"The South Korea government will voice our opinion that it is necessary for working-level officials from the two countries first to study, analyze and assess the effect of the KORUS FTA and check the reasons of the bilateral trade imbalance as we have made such suggestions at the Seoul-Washington summit last month", Seoul's trade ministry said in a statement.

Together with this, Lighthizer demanded that a special joint committee meeting be held in Washington, DC next month. Such formal notice was sent in a letter by U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to Korea's Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan.

According to reports, the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) became law in March 2012.

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Terms of the trade deal call for the talks to begin within 30 days.

Specifying the trade status of the two countries, Moon also reportedly said, "In the past five years since the FTA was effectuated, our auto exports to the United States in fact decreased".

The Obama administration had said the 2012 free trade agreement - described at the time as the most significant in 16 years - would boost USA businesses.

"At the joint committee, the two countries will talk about issues that they are concerned with".

"We will meet and discuss mutual interests and concerns".

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The Office of the United States Trade Representative's website shows a press release calling for a "special session" meeting under the KORUS FTA.

The administration focuses on trade in goods, like airplanes and washing machines.

"This is quite different from what the previous administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this agreement", he said.

During last year's campaign, Trump blamed free trade deals for being a key cause of job losses and other American economic problems in an attempt to woo voters struggling with economic difficulties.

The data also showed that exports of American vehicles to Korea increased 20 times faster than USA automobile exports to the world over the same period, meaning Korea now stands as the United States' eighth-largest export market by value, up from the 17th-largest market in 2011.

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Meanwhile, the US enjoys a growing trade surplus in services with South Korea, due partly to rising intellectual-property royalties paid to American companies.