S.Korea, US begin talks over reviewing trade deal

S.Korea, US begin talks over reviewing trade deal

South Korea's top trade negotiator said Tuesday that Seoul will not discuss renegotiation of the free trade agreement with the US without first looking into what is really causing the USA trade imbalance.

South Korea has maintains the two sides must first determine whether the trade deficit the US holds with South Korea was caused by KORUS or other fundamental economic issues. Kim said the US promised to reply after taking the proposal home and holding discussions.

"We are not saying that we are better off not having the FTA agreement at all, I think both sides agree that the nations would be better off having a trade deal", Kim said.

"It's very hard to predict the first round of negotiations", Kim said in statements after concluding the video conference.

Seoul could not concede to Washington's "one-sided" demands, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong told reporters following the special session of a joint committee on their bilateral free trade agreement.

The Trump administration wants to renegotiate trade terms regarding cars and steel because the two sectors are where the USA has significant deficits, said Rajiv Biswas, IHS Markit's Asia Pacific chief economist.

In June, Mr Trump told South Korean President Moon Jae In that U.S. automakers should have a "fair shake" for better vehicle sales. Mr. Kim said both sides reaffirmed their opposing views: The U.S. insists on modifying the deal, but South Korea opposes any change without recommendation from an objective joint study. US figures indicate its goods deficit with South Korea was $27.7 billion a year ago, or about $4.4 billion more than the number Korea came up with. The U.S. beef industry has seen its market share in South Korea increase and it doesn't support a change in terms.

In 2016, South Korea's vehicle exports to the United States stood at $16.2 billion, while its imports of USA cars were $1.74 billion, a trade ministry official said based on data from the Korea Trade International Association.

"We were unable to reach any consensus", said Kim, during a press briefing at the Central Government Complex in Seoul.

South Korea is the U.S.'s seventh-largest trading partner, while the U.S.is South Korea's second-biggest partner after China. President Trump has labeled the FTA a "horrible" deal that has destroyed American jobs, vowing since his run for the White House to either renegotiate or terminate the deal.

"The important focus of negotiations will be regulation of automobiles and steel, in which the US trade deficit has worsened [since the FTA went into effect]", said Kim Su-jin, a senior researcher at Woori Financial Research Institute.

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