U.S. President Barack Obama met major Korean entrepreneurs on April 26 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Seoul.
The meeting was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) and attended by the Federation of Korean Industries Chairman Heo Chang-soo, Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry Chairman Park Yong-man, Korea International Trade Association Chairman Han Deok-soo, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. “I will provide the maximum assistance for Korean companies investing in the United States,” said the President, asking the participants to step up their investment in his country.
He also mentioned that the KORUS FTA is definitely a win-win agreement, but there are some things still left to be handled. “Given South Korea’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fully implementing KORUS also is the single most important step that South Korea can take now to show that it’s prepared to eventually meet the high standards of the TPP,” he explained. Experts interpret the remark as his stance that Korea’s participation in the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, should follow the complete implementation of the KORUS FTA.
President Barack Obama picked automobiles, information communication, and organic food as the fields where fair competition should be guaranteed for American companies. “It cannot be denied that the free trade deal leads to greater exports and trade volume, but some things still have to be dealt with for fair competition in such fields as automobiles, intellectual property, organic food, and the like if the FTA can be fully implemented and the positive effect can be maximized,” he emphasized. It appears that he, by saying so, wants a delay of the provision of the subsidies for low-carbon vehicles scheduled for next year and a simplification of the process for the place of origin certification of agricultural products exported from the United States.
The previous day President Obama had a summit meeting with President Park Geun-hye to work more closely together for a perfect implementation of the KORUS FTA and an expanded application of the rules of origin, which was stressed by the U.S. government as a prerequisite for Korea’s accession to the TPP. The U.S. had complained of Korea’s strictness in applying the rules and claimed that it had hindered the export of agricultural goods.
However, the U.S. is likely to show a more positive stance as to Korea’s participation in the TPP with the problem having been tackled at least to some extent through the meeting. Korea has expressed its interest in the TPP and is currently going through the second round of preliminary negotiations to this end.