Amid the rising concerns over the protectionism of Trump’s administration based on the “American First” policy, South Korea's trade minister Joo Hyung-hwan met on March 9 (local time) with his US counterpart Wilbur Ross to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries.
In the first meeting with Wilbur Ross who took the helm of the Department of Commerce last week, Joo Hyung-hwan said the Korea-US free trade agreement (FTA) has contributed to expanding bilateral trade and investment as the basic frame for the economic cooperation between the two countries, creating jobs in both countries since its implementation in 2012, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The two trade ministers agreed on implementing the FTA faithfully, widening investment in the manufacturing sector and strengthening cooperation in the energy industry in accordance with their respective policy priority.
Ross assessed positively a possible expansion of the bilateral trade and cooperation between the two countries centered on the sectors of energy, machinery and equipment. He also expressed interests in a collaboration to nurture the industries over which both countries have comparative advantages like semiconductor.
Joo said, “It is necessary for the two nations to make joint entrances into third countries by combining US’s cutting-edge basic technologies and South Korea’s manufacturing techs.” He went on to say, “The FTA between South Korea and the US is observing the fifth anniversary this year and just on the relatively early stage, which requires its expansion and development through faithful implementations.”
During a four day trip to United States, Joo had talks with Ross, officials and experts there. In addition, the South Korean trade minister held talks with Orrin Hatch, chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee; Edwin Feulner, former president of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation; and Tami Overby, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce.
After taking office, Trump withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade deal, and has stepped up attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement. He has also given hints that his next target could be the pact with South Korea, which he denounced as a job-killing deal during the campaign.
South Korea is the sixth-largest trading partner to the US. The bilateral trade nearly doubled over the last decade with the trade volume in 2016 reaching US$112.2 billion.