South Korea trade chief stresses benefits of U.S. deal

By Elizabeth Shim  |  June 8, 2017 at 11:32 AM
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June 8 (UPI) -- South Korea's international trade agency chief wants the Trump administration to see bilateral trade relations in a larger framework that generates benefits for both sides.

Kim In-ho, chairman of Seoul's Korea International Trade Association, met with interim Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and two other Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C., Yonhap reported Thursday.

The meeting comes a month after U.S. President Donald Trump said the free trade agreement with Seoul was a "horrible deal" that was "made by Hillary Clinton."

Trump made the remarks during an interview with The Economist in May, while referring to the deal that began to be negotiated during the George W. Bush administration.

The remarks puzzled South Korean trade officials, who reportedly said they had not received any notice from the United States regarding the deal or possible renegotiations.

On Wednesday, Kim told U.S. lawmakers and Feulner the United States is Seoul's "most important partner," beginning with U.S. involvement in the 1950-53 Korean War to the present-day North Korea nuclear crisis, while the KORUS FTA is an "exemplary free trade agreement" that benefits both countries.

The trade deal is likely to be discussed between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump in their upcoming summit.

Kim also said trade data indicates the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea is "trending downward," and the two economies are in a "balanced state" when taking into account "products, services and investments," KITA said in a statement.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to tackle the U.S. trade deficit, which could include a revision of the five-year trade agreement with Seoul.

The U.S. trade deficit with Korea stood at $27.7 billion in 2016.

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