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Donald Trump seeks talks to overhaul South Korean trade deal

14 July 2017

"The special joint committee will deal with important trade imbalance issues and provide opportunities for the USA 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 USTR's data shows that total US export of goods to Korea were $43.5 billion in 2011, but fell 2.7 percent to $42.3 billion previous year.

South Korea has responded to a U.S. request for talks on a free-trade agreement between the two countries, saying its unclear if the deal is causing an intensifying imbalance.

According to the Trade Ministry, Korea's trade surplus with the United States was $11.6 billion in 2011, a year before the agreement went into effect in 2012. Under the present Korea-US FTA agreement, if one party asks for a meeting of the special joint committee, the other party should, in principle, respond within 30 days. The issue topped the agenda at a meeting between involving cabinet members from the two countries, including Lighthizer, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"We will dispatch senior officials to the United States and will discuss with our USA counterparts the details on and agenda and time frame". The official stated that the Moon Jae-in administration was looking to hold off all trade negotiations until after the country's new trade minister has been appointed.

The move comes two weeks after Trump and his advisers criticized South Korea's trade practices in front of its president, Moon Jae-in, while facing cameras at the White House.

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"We think there is a higher chance that the two countries will make some changes rather than renegotiating the whole agreement since Washington used terms like revision and modification instead of renegotiation", said the Korea International Trade Association in a press release on Thursday.

He added that South Korea continues to believe that the deal benefits both countries and that it first needs to be established whether the United States trade deficit with Seoul is due to the deal or is a result of other economic issues.

At the time the FTA was set, President Barack Obama predicted it would increase US exports to South Korea, the world's 11th-biggest economy.

He has lashed out at countries that have large trade surpluses with the USA and opposed multilateral agreements. In the case of South Korea, the deficit means US businesses and consumers bought more goods and services from South Korea than South Koreans bought from American firms.

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

Donald Trump seeks talks to overhaul South Korean trade deal