On October 11, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy responded to U.S. threats of withdrawing from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), stating, "The U.S. is not the only one who can use scrapping the FTA as a negotiation tactic.”
Ahead of the pre-arranged parliamentary audit on October 13, the Ministry of Trade declared in a written answer to lawmaker Chanyeol Lee from the People’s Party, "Even if the U.S. throws its weight and pressures to scrap the agreement and makes unreasonable demands, Korea will not give in to that.”
The ministry refuted the assessments that it was dragged under the US pressure to scrap the KORUS FTA, saying, “It is simply not true.”
The ministry emphasized, “It is necessary for us to continue to pursue dialogues and find an appropriate development plan in regards to the FTA as long as the KORUS FTA allows for mutual benefits.” The ministry also emphasized, “Even when entering revision talks, we will proceed with negotiations only after going through transparent domestic procedures under the ‘balance of interests’ principle.” .”
The ministry also revealed its plans to undergo routine procedures in accordance with trade negotiation laws, including an economic feasibility analysis, public hearing and report to the National Assembly, once KORUS FTA revision negotiations begin. “We will move forward in a mutually beneficial direction with the US while trying to cut down the scope of the revisions,“ it added.
In regards to the second session of the Joint Committee held in the United States on October 4, the ministry noted, “The U.S. has raised the idea of FTA revisions centering on the automobile industry to resolve the trade imbalance.”
The ministry said, “We made it clear that we could bring up corresponding issues with the United States’ revision requests in order to balance the gains,” adding, “We will locate and decide on areas of interest for the revisions after collecting extensive domestic feedback.”
It added, "It is difficult to mention the details of requests from the US at this point as they are under discussions.”
Additionally, the ministry admitted the two countries have different views on the effects of the KORUS FTA, mentioning it had shared and explained analytical results on the FTA’s reciprocity as well as the relationship between the FTA and the U.S. trade deficit.
Regarding the critics that the government changed its position by entering the revision talks even if it had stated “there will not be any renegotiations,” the ministry claimed, “We have never said that there would not be any renegotiations,” saying, “We have repeatedly stated we are prepared for all possible outcomes and that we will continue to be open to discussions with the United States.”
Regarding the question that the current government personnel, who had disagreed with South Korea’s ratification of the KORUS FTA in 2011, can really protect the FTA, the current ruling party said, “It was the current ruling party who led and entered the FTA for what were considered our national interests as the ruling party at the time of the former and dead President Roh administration.” It claimed, “We were not in opposition to the FTA itself,” saying, “The ruling party brought up problems of the provisions dealing with the investor-state disputes (ISD) and the opening of service markets in the way of negative system.”