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(2nd LD) Pence says Washington will 'reform' FTA with S. Korea

All News 11:01 April 18, 2017

(ATTN: REARRANGES quotes; ADDS more info from 3rd para)

SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that Washington will review and reform the free trade agreement with South Korea, citing "too many barriers" to U.S. businesses.

The visiting vice president made the remarks during an American Chamber of Commerce meeting in Seoul. South Korea and the United States enforced the so-called KORUS FTA in 2012.

"Most concerning is the fact that the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since the KORUS came into effect. That's the hard truth," Pence told the meeting.

(2nd LD) Pence says Washington will 'reform' FTA with S. Korea - 1

"Our businesses continue to face too many barriers of entry which tilled the playing field against the American workers and American growth.. We are reviewing all of our trade agreements across the world to ensure they benefit our economy as much as they benefit our trading partners," he added.

His remarks are in line with things President Donald Trump said before taking office. He has blamed free trade deals including one with South Korea for killing U.S. jobs, raising the need for adjustments to the terms of the deal.

Pence, who is in Seoul as part of his Asia-Pacific trip, mentioned beneficial effects of the FTA with South Korea, citing expanded two-way trade and more inflows of investment into the U.S. since the deal went into effect.

He called the increased economic exchanges between the two countries something worth a "round of applause" but noted that they should be "honest about where their trade relationship is."

"We know that you can help us level that playing field between our two countries and move toward a system that maximize jobs and growth and a brighter future for the people of the U.S. and people of South Korea. We will work toward that end to reform the KORUS in the days ahead," he said.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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