South Korea girds for U.S. trade negotiations

Oct. 10 (UPI) — South Korea trade negotiators are bracing themselves for the next round of negotiations on the bilateral trade agreement with the United States known as KORUS FTA.

Kim Hyun-chong, Seoul’s chief negotiator, said any renegotiation of the deal would be made in the “national interest,” South Korean news service Newsis reported.

In September, U.S. President Donald Trump told advisors to prepare to terminate the FTA with Seoul, despite increasing tensions with North Korea.

The deal was reached in 2007 under the George W. Bush administration and went into effect in 2012.

Trump had called the FTA a “horrible deal” that had “destroyed” America, according to The Washington Post.

The United States currently has a trade deficit of $27.7 billion with South Korea, with $112.2 billion in total two-way trade in 2016.

Kim, who spoke to South Korean parliamentarians on Tuesday following a meeting with U.S. negotiators in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday, was asked to refrain from any new agreement “unless balanced interests are created between the two countries,” said Woo Won-shik, a politician with the ruling Minjoo Party of Korea.

Opposition leaders faulted South Korean President Moon Jae-in for what they described as a lack of preparations for the FTA renegotiation, The Korea Herald reported.

“The Moon Jae-in administration did not follow the due procedure before making it an accomplished fact that the KORUS FTA will be revised,” said People’s Party politician Kim Dong-cheol. “By sticking to groundless and unrealistic optimism and no countermeasures, [Seoul] looks to be facing the negotiation table without due time to prepare strategies.”

U.S. analysts have criticized Trump’s willingness to punish trading partners for U.S. trade deficits that have more to do with savings and investment.

“The real source of my disappointment is that the president isn’t tackling policies that will help the people affected by trade,” Columbia University economist Glenn Hubbard said last week.

Hubbard, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under former President George W. Bush, said policies need to instead “radically rethink” labor market institutions and low-wage work.

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