South Korea and the United States entered into formal discussions to decide whether to revise the Korea-US FTA.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea and the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced on August 18 that they will hold a special session of the Joint Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Committee in Seoul on August 22.
"Korean trade minister Kim Hyun-jong and USTR Robert Lighthizer, representatives of both sides will hold a high-level face-to-face meeting after having a teleconference on August 22,” the ministry said. Lighthizer will not be able to come to Korea due to a scheduling conflict and take part in the teleconference in Washington, DC.
For the high-level meeting, a US delegation including Jamieson Greer, chief of staff to the USTR and Michael Beeman, assistant USTR is planning to visit Korea.
Earlier, the USTR sent a letter asking the Korean government to convene a special session of the joint committee to negotiate an amendment to the Korea-US FTA on July 12 (local time).
"Let’s review the operation of the agreement, including a possibility of an amendment or revision," the USTR said in the letter, calling for a special session to address a trade imbalance issue. "We hope to hold the special session in Washington DC within 30 days after the request."
The KORUS FTA Agreement stipulates that if one party requests a special session of the joint committee, the other party must take part in the meeting within 30 days if there is no separate agreement.
With respect to the letter, the Korean government said on July 24, "Let’s hold the meeting at an appropriate time after an organizational restructuring process is completed in Seoul." In its reply, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy did not mention a possibility of a negotiation over the revision of the agreement and only said, "We agree with the request of the US side to hold a special session in accordance with procedures set forth in the agreement."
The government appointed Kim Hyun-jong as Korea’s trade minister and has exchanged opinions on the date, place and agendas of the special session with the United States.
"As stated in our reply on July 24, we will emphasize that reciprocally positive achievements have been made in the trade, investment and employment between the two countries for five years since the Korea-US FTA went into effect,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said. “We will discuss the best ways to carry out objective reviews and evaluations of and research on the effects of the Korea-US FTA."