U.S., Korea Continue Talks on KORUS Implementation and Revision
The second round of negotiations to modify the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement took place Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Seoul, but there was little apparent progress and no date set for further meetings.
According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, discussions focused on specific proposals, including those related to market access and tariffs. The U.S. again emphasized steps to improve its trade deficit with Korea in industrial goods, including autos and auto parts. Specifically, a Korea Times article states, the U.S. demanded that the country of origin rules be toughened “to suppress Korea’s automobile exports to the United States” and that Korea ease emissions regulations “to increase exports of U.S. cars.” USTR states that the U.S. also pressed for the resolution of implementation concerns that have “hindered U.S. goods and services export growth and opportunities in Korea.”
The Korean trade ministry said it offered “detailed suggestions” on revising the investor-state dispute settlement system and raised concerns about trade remedies, particularly the U.S. decision to impose safeguard duties on imports of solar cells and clothes washers from virtually all trading partners, including Korea, beginning Feb. 7. Trade minister Kim Hyun-chong said he “expressed strong regret” over this move and “pointed out the unfairness of using adverse facts available” on Korean goods. The safeguard tariffs are the focus of a World Trade Organization dispute settlement case Seoul recently filed against the U.S.