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Is Korea ready to leverage U.S. lawmakers for KORUS FTA negotiations?

Is Korea ready to leverage U.S. lawmakers for KORUS FTA negotiations?

Posted July. 19, 2017 07:25,   

Updated July. 19, 2017 07:33


Four leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives have urged the U.S. Trade Representative to "consult closely with Congress before meeting with South Korean trade delegation and throughout its discussions." The big four Republican and Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer on Monday (local time), stressing that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is not just an economic cooperation but an economic alliance involving strategic interests between strong allies. U.S. Congress has decided to check President Donald Trump who announced renegotiating the free trade agreement without consultation with Congress.

The bipartisan lawmakers’ one voice against President Trump who denied the value of the bilateral free trade agreement confirms the democracy of the U.S. based on the separation of powers. The checking role of U.S. Congress against the administration and the bipartisan belief over the alliance allowed today’s U.S. to exist. U.S. governors stressed economic alliances to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the run-up to renegotiating the NAFTA to be launched on Aug. 16. The value of free trade is rising again as Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire said he would side with Canada if the negotiation does not go well. This dwarfs President Trump’s political action, which has stressed "America First" in the "Made in America" event.

President Trump started to seriously talk about renegotiating the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement when he became Republican presidential candidate in May last year. It is doubtful whether the Korean government has ever prepared over the past year. After President Trump mentioned the trade deficit with Japan in the U.S.-Japan summit on July 8, Japan has promoted what it has contributed to the U.S. economy by leveraging the employees of the Japan Embassy in the U.S. and Japanese companies. Canada has been meeting the U.S. government officials, lawmakers and state government officials to persuade them in the run up to renegotiating the NAFTA. Japan is a country with key currency and has no agreement to negotiate with the U.S. Canada is taking swift actions although it has many supporters in the U.S. In contrast, Korea has yet to appoint the Trade, Industry and Energy minister who represents the country’s trade diplomacy.

Korea’s best strategy in the upcoming discussions with the U.S. would be highlighting that the free trade agreement has contributed to the economic cooperation between the two countries. It is a positive sign that U.S. Congress urged its administration to take caution on the amendment of the free trade deal. South Korean political sector and government should do their best to communicate with U.S. politicians and government officials for less than a month. If the discussions begin without explaining the benefits of the free trade deal, the result will be affected by U.S. politics, not by economic theories.