Jeffrey Schott, senior fellow in trade policy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says it would make sense to update the US-South Korea trade deal to cover emerging businesses such as e-commerce.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday directed Blue House officials to prepare for all possibilities a day after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said his office had requested bilateral talks toward renegotiating the agreement.
Trump has sought to shake up USA trade agreements, with the NY real estate mogul regularly touting his ability to negotiate "deals".
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy also said that it would call on its United States counterpart to first review the root causes of the trade imbalance between the two countries.
"Since KORUS went into effect, our trade deficit in goods with Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, while U.S. goods exports have actually gone down".
Since the agreement went into affect in 2012, "our trade deficit in goods with (South) Korea has doubled from US$13.2 billion to US$27.6 billion, while USA goods exports have actually gone down", Lighthizer said in a statement.
The ministry said it would like to delay the meeting since the post of chief trade negotiator for Korea is vacant due to the delay in appointments by the new administration of Moon Jae-in. "The renegotiation table opens when the two countries agree to do so".
According to the trade pact, a special joint committee can be held within 30 days upon request by one party, with the two sides needing to reach an agreement on decisions made at the committee. "But our clear position is that the KORUS FTA can not be the cause for the US' trade deficit from Korea and that we should check and review this together with the US".
"This is quite different from what the previous administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this agreement".
Over the longer term, Seoul expects imports of shale gas to narrow South Korea's trade surplus with the U.S. Moon seeks to steer South Korea away from nuclear power and toward renewable energy and plants fueled by liquefied natural gas.
The data also showed that exports of American vehicles to Korea increased 20 times faster than U.S. automobile exports to the world over the same period, meaning Korea now stands as the United States' eighth-largest export market by value, up from the 17th-largest market in 2011.
"It's imperative that we work together to ensure that the economic partnership between our two countries is not only strong and vibrant, but also fair, and that the KORUS Agreement benefits the US economy as much as it does that of Korea", he said.
The Trump administration blames the trade gap on barriers to United States exports, particularly within the auto market.
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