South Korea's chief economic policymaker said Wednesday that the government will put its focus on expanding national interest at the upcoming free trade deal renegotiations with the United States.
"National interest will be the top priority in the talks (for the trade pact)," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in an economy-related meeting. "Our government should make utmost efforts to reflect the views of the industrial sector and fully take into consideration the whole economy."
Earlier, the trade ministry said it will submit a plan on the renegotiation of the South Korea-US FTA to the National Assembly on Dec. 18.
Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon (Yonhap)
The trade ministry has completed two public hearings to collect opinions on the 5-year-old deal called the KORUS FTA and discussed related issues with 20 ministries and organizations Monday.
Submitting a plan to parliament would effectively wrap up the domestic procedures needed for opening talks with Washington.
To start talks, the US administration has to send a letter notifying Congress that it intends to launch FTA negotiations in 90 days. It must also hold public hearings and disclose its goal 30 days prior to official talks.
The latest move comes as leaders of the two nations agreed to speed up the process to amend the pact during the summit meeting in Seoul in early November.
US President Donald Trump called the deal a "job killer" during his election campaign, citing rising trade deficits in the manufacturing sector.
Experts say US efforts to narrow the trade gap are expected to focus on the auto and steel sectors, while Seoul officials have voiced opposition to further lowering barriers in the agricultural sector on concerns of strong protests from local farmers and stockbreeders.
South Korea is the US' seventh-largest trading partner, while the US is South Korea's second-biggest partner after China. (Yonhap)