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Korea, US Compromise on FTA Disagreements

Posted November. 10, 2010 11:26,   


Top trade officials from Korea and the U.S. have virtually reached a compromise on disagreements over their bilateral free trade deal, waiting for final approval from the leaders of their respective governments.

Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk failed to narrow differences on the automotive sector and other industries at a meeting Monday morning, but reached a tentative deal in the afternoon. After reporting the compromise to their presidents, they are believed to be working on a final deal based on their leaders’ opinions.

Amid the increased possibility that the two allies will announce a final compromise for the agreement at their bilateral summit Thursday, a major breakthrough is expected more than three years after the agreement’s signing.

Korea agreed to further open its market to U.S. auto imports as demanded by Congress. Seoul also reportedly accepted Washington’s requests to include eased safety and environmental standards into an appendix, but refused revision of clauses in the agreement.

The U.S. accepted Korea’s position that beef imports are a separate issue from the agreement.

According to a joint study by 11 state-funded think tanks, full effectuation of the trade deal will raise Korean exports to the U.S. by 13.3 billion U.S. dollars and American imports in Korea by 8.6 billion dollars.

Once a final agreement is reached, the leaders of the two countries are expected to agree to complete the ratification process at an early date for quick implementation.

Congress must vote on the agreement within 90 session days of reviewing related bills. Because the deal will go into effect in 60 days after both governments inform each other of the completion of their domestic procedures, the agreement will likely take effect in the second half of next year.