SEOUL―South Korea and the US have reached no agreement on renegotiating their free trade pact, a top Seoul official said Tuesday after meeting US counterparts.
The US administration under President Donald Trump has been seeking to revise the pact, signed by former President Barack Obama, which Trump has slammed as a “horrible deal” and a “job killer.”
Trade officials from both sides gathered in Seoul on Tuesday after Washington called a meeting but failed to reach “any agreement,” Seoul’s trade minister Kim Hyun-Chong told reporters.
“We did not agree with the unilateral demand by the US to revise” the Korea-US free-trade agreement, Kim said, adding no date had been set for a follow-up meeting.
“We also explained that the US trade deficit is a result of a complex array of factors on micro and macro levels, not a result of the Korea-US FTA,” he added.
South Korea―Asia’s fourth-largest economy and the seventh-largest trading partner of the US―has maintained there is no clear link between the pact and the US trade deficit.
In a statement on Tuesday, the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made no mention of the outcome of the day’s discussions, but said talks would continue “over the coming weeks.”
“American service exports have seen virtually no growth in the past four years,” Lighthizer said.
“President Trump is committed to substantial improvements in the Korean agreement that address the trade imbalance and ensure that the deal is fully implemented.”
Trump’s push to revise the deal is part of his wider drive to cut his nation’s trade deficits with a number of countries including the South, a key Asian ally with which it is confronting the threats from the nuclear-armed North.
The US is the South’s second-biggest trading partner after China.
The US goods trade deficit with the South has more than doubled since the pact took effect in 2012, from $13.2 billion in 2011 to $27.6 billion last year, according to US data.