Moon talks up changes to the Korea-U.S. FTA

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Moon talks up changes to the Korea-U.S. FTA


President Moon Jae-in, far right, speaks in a weekly meeting with his top aides at the Blue House in Seoul on April 2. [YONHAP]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed the recently concluded negotiations between his country and the United States to revise their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) Monday, saying they will benefit both countries.

The president also insisted the conclusion of negotiations will aid the local economy by removing uncertainties.

“Removing external uncertainties by concluding negotiations to revise the FTA with the U.S. is a great achievement, especially when trade protectionism is spreading,” Moon said while meeting his top aides at his the Blue House.

Seoul and Washington announced a successful conclusion of their negotiations on Wednesday. The Korea-U.S. FTA went into effect in March 2012.

Under the revised FTA, South Korean pickup trucks will be subject to 25 percent U.S. import tariffs until 2041 while the number of U.S. cars that do not have to meet local regulations to enter the South Korean market will be doubled to 50,000.

The negotiations to revise the Korea-U.S. FTA came at the request of Washington, which earlier claimed the bilateral free trade pact caused massive trade deficits for the U.S.

Moon said the revised agreement will help level out the countries’ trade balances.

Still, he insisted any additional damage to local industries and exporters will be minimized.

“We have successfully minimized the effect on our local industries by winning a [temporary] exemption from U.S. steel tariffs and defending the country’s auto exports and agricultural market while balancing out the countries’ interests,” Moon told the weekly meeting.

“Now I ask the government to carefully analyze the possible effect the revised FTA will have on Korea-U.S. trade and come up with necessary measures,” the president said. “If we thoroughly analyze and prepare necessary measures, we may also create a new opportunity.”

The president also insisted the conclusion of FTA negotiations was necessary ahead of South-North Korea and U.S.-North Korea summits aimed at denuclearizing the communist North.

“It was also a great job [to have concluded the negotiations] in the sense that it has sorted out a possible source of conflict while close cooperation between the two countries is critical to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he was quoted as saying.

Moon is set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27 for what would be a third inter-Korean summit.

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