중앙데일리

Outcome still uncertain on FTA talks with U.S.

A stronger won led to imports outpacing exports, say analysts

Dec 02,2010
Korea and the U.S. ended their first day of talks on reaching a deal to revise their free trade agreement, with the outcome still uncertain on whether the two sides can find a compromise.

“It is premature to say at the moment that the talks will be easy or very difficult,” said Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon after meeting U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk at a hotel in Columbia, Maryland. “It may or may not be done. We are still trying [to reach an agreement].”

Kim said that “nothing has changed and the same matters are being discussed,” referring to U.S. demands that changes be made in the trade pact that would allow more access for U.S. autos and beef into Korea.

Kim said the issue of revising limits on U.S. beef imports had not been raised in the talks, suggesting that the negotiations were focused on easing emission and safety standards for U.S. autos.

Kim said that the current negotiations involved a “package deal,” suggesting that Korea would seek unspecified concessions from the U.S. in return for revising the auto standards.

“The other side has the desire to reach a conclusion and I also came here with the thought of going back with results instead of returning empty handed,” kim said.

Kirk predicted that the two sides will reach some kind of an agreement.

Kim hinted that if needed, the initial two-day schedule could be extended a day or two. If the two sides fail to agree again, the option still remains for the U.S. side to visit Korea for more talks.

Kim led a 10-member delegation to the talks on revising the trade pact that hs a better change of winning U.S. congressional approval three years after the deal was signed. U.S. President Barack Obama had set the deadline for the conclusion of the talks for mid-November during the G-20 economic summit in Seoul, but failed to reach an agreement with President Lee Myung-bak.


By Jung Seung-hyun [seungjung@joongang.co.kr]



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