U.S.-Korea Free Trade Meetings Conclude

Officials from the United States and the Republic of Korea concluded their meetings yesterday on advancing amendment and modification negotiations and other discussions on the U.S.- Korea (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement.

The U.S. delegation met from January 31–February 1 in Seoul and was led by Michael Beeman, assistant U.S. trade representative for Japan, Korea and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). Korea’s delegation was led by Deputy Minister Myung-hee Yoo of the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry (MOTIE).

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), discussions focused on specific proposals, including those related to market access and tariffs. The United States emphasized steps to rebalance the agreement to improve the large trade deficit in industrial goods, including autos and auto parts. Additionally, the United States pressed for the resolution of agreement implementation concerns that have hindered U.S. goods and services export growth and opportunities in Korea.

“These negotiations are an example of the Trump administration’s commitment to making trade deals fair and reciprocal,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a statement.

“We must build on these negotiations with substantive and expeditious progress that will benefit the American people. In every trade relationship, the United States will stand up for U.S. workers and manufacturers, especially those facing serious injury or harm by unfair trade practices.”

At the direction of President Donald Trump, in July 2017 Ambassador Lighthizer initiated talks to consider matters affecting the operation of the KORUS Free Trade Agreement, including amendments and modifications to resolve several problems regarding market access in Korea for U.S. exports and, most important, to address the significant trade imbalance. The last meeting was held in Washington, D.C. on January 5, 2018.

Both sides anticipate setting dates in the near future for further meetings in Washington, D.C.

CalChamber Position

The California Chamber of Commerce reaffirmed support for the U. S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) in a letter sent September 5, 2017 to members of the Trump Administration, including the Secretary of Commerce and the US Trade Representative.

CalChamber now urges a quick and efficient process, and one that does not hinder ongoing trade and investment between the U.S. and South Korea who must be kept united in the same end-goal of a successful renegotiation.

For more information, visit CalChamber’s Trading Partner Portal: South Korea

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, senior vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. See full bio.