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U.S.-Korea FTA: Easy Issues First

Posted January. 15, 2007 03:09,   


The sixth round of the Korea-U.S. FTA negotiations is to be held at the Shilla Hotel in Jangchung-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul from January 15 through 19.

The two parties are planning to avoid major contending issues including trade remedies, autos, pharmaceuticals, and SPS (sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues) to discuss less-sensitive ones.

The Foreign Ministry said yesterday in its preparation meeting for the sixth round of the KORUS FTA negotiations that it will create a condition to focus on major sectors after this round of talks by exchanging follow-up proposals and concluding negotiations on general issues.

Korea is set to demand from the U.S. more tariff cuts on automobiles and textiles, and their faster implementation. The two countries will discuss wider opening of the Korean agricultural market.

However, fierce debates are expected regarding the issues of the opening of the rice market, whether to recognize goods from the Gaeseong industrial complex as “made in Korea,” and the standards for textile products’ country of origin. There are also many unresolved issues in government procurement, labor, and environment, let alone the contentious service and investment sectors.

A Korean delegate said that the negotiators will make a breakthrough on key issues such as trade remedies and cars at a high-level meeting after the sixth round, and try to wrap up the negotiation in the seventh round scheduled for next month in America.

abc@donga.com jarrett@donga.com