The Korea Herald


AmCham heads to sell Trump on ‘win-win’ KORUS FTA

By 줄리 잭슨 (Julie Jackson)

Published : Feb. 1, 2017 - 16:08

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Following the recent inauguration of US President Donald Trump, economic tensions are soaring as the new US administration’s tougher trade policy stance and “America first” approach may drastically impact the terms of the current Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.

This year is already shaping up to be a monumental period for the two countries' economic and political relationship with a new US president, the pending election of a new South Korean president, as well as a new US Ambassador to Korea following the conclusion of former Ambassador Mark Lippert’s term last month.

Looking to sell the Trump administration on the Korea-US FTA as being an economic win-win for both nations, the heads of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea will head to Washington later this year to lay out the facts and figures of the trade agreement that they deem as being a highly mutually beneficial deal.  

AmCham Korea Chairman James Kim (right) speaks during a press conference held at the AmCham headquarters in Seoul on Wednesday. (AmCham Korea) AmCham Korea Chairman James Kim (right) speaks during a press conference held at the AmCham headquarters in Seoul on Wednesday. (AmCham Korea)

“In my view, this is potentially the most important and exciting period for AmCham as we seek to continue to create a win-win partnership between Korea and the United States,” said AmCham Korea Chairman James Kim during a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Seoul on Wednesday.

“President Trump has just taken office, but has already made it clear that he will place greater focus on trade policy, and in particular, on bilateral agreements rather than regional,” he continued.

Already in his first week in office, President Trump signed an executive order to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade pact between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, further raising concerns regarding possible renegotiations of the Korea-US FTA.

During his election campaign, Trump publically criticized the agreement as being unfair to the US, saying it took away jobs from Americans.

“Equally as clear is his intention to focus on business, and he has already established several business advisory committees made up of some of America’s most prominent CEOs. Now is the time for the key stakeholders in Korea to truly sell the value of the KORUS FTA on a factual basis, while giving our best advice to the council and to the new president,” Kim said.

AmCham is the largest foreign chamber in Korea with more than 700 member companies, both US and foreign, with the goal of promoting and expanding trade and investment partnership between Korea and the US. 

The chairman announced the organization’s three biggest priorities are to have US and Korean businesses team up to provide possible necessary new criteria for the two nations’ continued FTA deal, to foster a better partnership with the Korean government and to seek to further deregulation, transparency and inclusion policies.

According to the American Chamber, Korea currently stands as the sixth-largest trading partner to the US, with the lowest trade deficit among the United States’ major trade countries. 

“Korea has been contributing to the growth of the US economy in diverse ways. Korean companies in the United States have created more than 45,000 jobs in the local communities,” said Jeffrey Jones, former AmCham chairman and current chairman for the Partners for the Future Foundation. “In fact, investment from Korea to the US is higher than the investment from the US to Korea.”

“The Trump administration has made it clear that they will be pursuing an ‘America first’ policy on all important issues,” he continued. “It is AmCham’s wish, and we are positioned, to help Korea enunciate a path which the Trump administration can accept as in the US interest.”

By Julie Jackson (