‘Korea, U.S. may start
FTA talks in September’
Korea and the U.S. may open talks in late September to resolve difference over terms in their free trade agreement, Seoul’s top trade official said Wednesday.
The accord was signed in 2007 but has yet to be ratified by the legislatures of both countries as the U.S. seeks a greater access to the Korean automobile market.
The FTA gained a fresh momentum when U.S. President Barack Obama said last month that the he hopes to see outstanding issues resolved before November.
“We did not discuss the timing of the discussion,” Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said. “But I think both sides may begin an intensive discussion in late September.”
He added that the U.S. appears not to be prepared for additional working-level negotiations.
Speaking after a summit with President Lee Myung-bak in Toronto on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in late June, Obama said that the accord will be modified to meet the demands of lawmakers opposing the deal before the G20 summit in Seoul in November.
The U.S. president also said that the accord will be submitted to the Congress within a few months. He instructed U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to open working-level talks with Korea.
U.S. automakers claim that removing tariffs on vehicles imported from Korea will be detrimental to their interests. If the FTA is implemented, the 8 percent tax placed on U.S. vehicles by Korea and the 2.5 percent tariff placed on smaller Korean-made cars will be removed immediately. The tariff placed on Korean vehicles with engine displacements larger than 3,000 cubic centimeters will be removed after three years.
Regarding Korea’s FTA with the European Union, the minister said the two sides are expected to formally sign the deal in September after Brussels completes translating the document into 22 languages of its member countries, possibly in August.
Korea and the European Union reached a provisional deal last year to cut tariffs and lower trade barriers. They were expected to sign it by April but it was delayed due to procedural matters.
By Choi He-suk