USTR Calls Special Session Under US-Korea Free Trade Agreement
Main Purpose is to Address US Trade Deficit With South Korea
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer yesterday, at the direction of President Donald Trump, formally notified the Republic of Korea that the US is calling a special joint committee meeting under the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).
The purpose of the meeting, according to the USTR, is “to start the process of negotiating to remove barriers to US trade and consider needed amendments to the agreement.”
“The USTR acted in accord with the president’s intention of reducing the trade deficit and giving Americans a better chance to succeed in global markets,” according to a statement released by that office.
Since KORUS went into effect, the US trade deficit in goods with South Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, according to figures supplied by the USTR, US good exports declined by 2.7 percent between 2011 and 2016. KORUS went into effect in March 2012.
Lighthizer called for the special joint committee meeting to take place in Washington, DC next month on a day to be agreed upon by the parties.
The joint committee, established in Article 22.2 of KORUS, supervises the implementation of the agreement and the work of the various committees and bodies set up under the agreement. It also seeks to resolve disputes concerning the interpretation and application of KORUS, and it considers ways to enhance trade relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea. The Joint Committee may consider amendments to KORUS or make modifications to it and issue interpretations of the provisions in KORUS. The Joint Committee is co-chaired by the US Trade Representative and the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Korea, or their deputies.
In his letter to South Korea’s Minister of trade, Industry, and energy, Joo Hyunghwan, Lighthizer said the session and follow-on negotiations “will provide an opportunity to review progress on the implementation of the agreement, resolve several problems regarding market access in Korea for US exports, and, most importantly, address our significant trade imbalance.”
“A key focus of the Trump administration is an reducing our trade deficits with our trade partners around the world,” the Lighthizer letter went on to say, “and we have real concerns about our significant trade imbalance with Korea.”
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