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S. Korea, U.S. conclude 1st meeting on amending free trade deal

All News 11:40 January 06, 2018

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States held their first meeting Friday to discuss amendments to their free trade deal as Washington pushes to reduce its trade deficit with the Asian country.

Each side raised issues pertaining to the revision and implementation of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, known as KORUS, including "sensitive areas," South Korea's trade ministry said in a statement.

The South Korean side, in particular, noted its interest in resolving issues over the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause and trade remedies. With the ISDS provision, investors can sue countries for alleged discriminatory practices through international arbitration bodies.

On issues raised by the U.S., South Korea "actively" expressed its position, the ministry said without elaborating.

The renegotiation follows U.S. President Donald Trump's blaming of the six-year-old deal for his country's growing trade deficit with Asia's fourth largest economy. But Seoul has pointed to macroeconomic factors and the U.S. surplus in services trade.

Washington has called for better access to South Korea's auto market, among other items.

The two sides agreed to continue talks based on Friday's meeting and to determine the date for a second round of negotiations soon, the ministry said.

"The government plans to thoroughly prepare for the next round of negotiations by collecting the opinions of stakeholders and experts and drawing up a joint strategy with relevant ministries," it added.

The meeting was led on the South Korean side by Yoo Myung-hee, director-general of the ministry's trade policy bureau, and on the U.S. side by Assistant Trade Representative Michael Beeman.

hague@yna.co.kr
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