On January 5, the United States and South Korea held their first meeting to discuss potential renegotiation of the U.S.- South Korea (KORUS) free trade agreement. In addition to discussing procedural and timetable issues, the United States discussed proposals to move toward fair and reciprocal trade in key industrial goods sectors, such as autos and auto parts, and to resolve cross-cutting and sector-specific barriers affecting U.S. exports. South Korea noted its interest in resolving “sensitive issues,” including the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause and trade remedies.
At the conclusion of the negotiating session, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer said, “We have much work to do to reach an agreement that serves the economic interests of the American people. Our goals are clear: we must achieve fair and reciprocal trade between our two nations. We will move forward as expeditiously as possible to achieve this goal.”
The United States first announced its intent to seek modifications to KORUS in July 2017. During President Trump’s visit to Seoul in November 2017, the two countries agreed to expedite the talks. The U.S. delegation is led by Michael Beeman, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea and APEC. South Korea’s delegation is led by Myung-hee Yoo, Director General from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).