United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement

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United States–South Korea Free Trade Agreement
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United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement
Hangul
한·미 자유 무역 협정
Hanja
韓美自由貿易協定
Revised Romanization Han-Mi jayu muyeok hyeopjeong
McCune–Reischauer Han-Mi chayu muyŏk hyŏpchŏng

The United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement (officially: Free Trade Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea), [1] also known as KORUS FTA, [2] is a trade agreement between the United States and South Korea. Negotiations were announced on February 2, 2006, and concluded on April 1, 2007. The treaty was first signed on June 30, 2007, with a renegotiated version signed in early December 2010. [3] [4]

Contents

The agreement was ratified by the United States on October 12, 2011, with the Senate passing it 83–15 [5] and the House 278–151. [6] It was ratified by the National Assembly of South Korea on November 22, 2011, with a vote of 151–7, with 12 abstentions. [7] The agreement entered into effect in March 2012. [8] Another renegotiation took place from late 2017 to late March 2018, when an agreement was reached between both governments. [9]

The trade agreement involves an estimated 362 million consumers in the United States and the Republic of Korea.[ citation needed ] The treaty's provisions eliminate 95% of each nation's tariffs on goods within five years, and create new protections for multinational financial services and other firms. [4] For the United States, the treaty was the first free trade agreement (FTA) with a major Asian economy and the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. For South Korea, the KORUS FTA is second in size only to the FTA signed with the European Union [10] and dwarfs other FTAs signed with Chile, Singapore, the European Free Trade Area and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). [11]

History

While the treaty was signed on June 30, 2007, ratification was slowed when President George W. Bush's fast-track trade authority expired and a Democratic Party-controlled Congress expressed objections to the treaty related to concerns over bilateral trade in automobiles and U.S. beef exports. Nearly three years later, on June 26, 2010, President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak expressed renewed commitment to the treaty, stating that they would direct their governments to resolve remaining obstacles to the agreement by November 2010. [12]

After discussions at the November 2010 G-20 Seoul summit and further negotiations in December 2010 in Maryland, Presidents Obama and Lee announced on December 4, 2010, that a deal had been reached; they subsequently signed an updated version of the agreement. [4] [13] [14] [15] [16] On March 15, 2012, the agreement entered into effect. [8]

2008–11

2008

Soon after being signed by the US President George W. Bush and his South Korean counterpart, Roh Moo-hyun, rumors spread of a possible renegotiation of the text, citing possible opposition by the U.S. Democrats. However, Kim Jong-Hoon, South Korea's chief negotiator for the 10-month talks that brought the FTA, denied such rumors assuring journalists that "The deal has been done and that's it. There will be no renegotiations."[ citation needed ] Kim's comment came after his American counterpart, Wendy Cutler, the assistant US trade representative for Japan, Korea and APEC Affairs and chief negotiator of the KORUS FTA negotiations, indicated that the Democrats might demand amendments in the labor area. [17]

On September 16, 2008, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez asked the U.S Congress to ratify the Korea-U.S. free trade treaty as soon as possible, arguing that "trade creates more jobs and boosts economic growth". He called on the U.S. Congress to swiftly approve pending trade deals with Colombia and Panama as well. [18]

The Grand National Party (GNP) was at the same time considering its position the National Assembly's ratification of the agreement. At a meeting of its top council held October 2, 2008, at party headquarters in Yeouido, GNP leadership expressed divergent opinions. GNP chairman Park Hee-tae and supreme council member Chung Mong-joon sided with the argument for circumspection. Park said it was first necessary to establish a plan for farmers and fishermen negatively affected by the agreement. He suggested looking at the government's countermeasures, then discussing passage of the FTA. But leaders within the National Assembly of South Korea argued for a quick resolution. Floor leader Hong Joon-pyo is reported to have said that the United States could propose renegotiations in the area of automobiles, which they felt was disadvantageous to the U.S. auto industry. He stated this could be done following the U.S. election, but that it was necessary to ratify the FTA before then. [19]

On October 1, 2008, a South Korean trade official said that ratification was unlikely within the year given the U.S. political climate. [20] [21] On October 2, 2008, South Korea completed all procedures for parliamentary ratification and the trade bill was submitted to the National Assembly. [22] The Korean ambassador to the United States, Lee Tae-shik, held more than 300 meetings with U.S. Congressmen to persuade them to ratify the FTA, which was facing objection from Democrats, who held a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. [23]

U.S. presidential election

During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, both Senator John McCain of the Republican Party and Senator Barack Obama of the Democratic Party expressed commitment to a U.S.–Korea alliance, but the Democratic Party expressed anxiety about globalization and renewed doubts about trade liberalization, which it argued could jeopardize the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Its presidential candidate Barack Obama opposed the KORUS FTA as "badly flawed" during his campaign because in his view it would not do enough to increase U.S. auto sales. His criticism echoed the auto labor unions. [24] Obama said he would vote against the FTA if it came to the floor of the U.S. Senate and that he would send it back to Korea if elected president.

Obama had expressed similar negative feelings about the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, threatening during February 2008 campaign stops in industrial states to "opt out" of the three-nation agreement. His senior economic advisor Austan Goolsbee assured Canadian officials in a private meeting on February 9 that Obama's rhetoric was "more reflective of political maneuvering than policy". [25]

The Republican Party pointed to a $20 billion increase in annual bilateral trade as evidence that both countries would benefit economically from lowering trade barriers, citing the Korea-U.S. trade deal as an example of the rewards of free trade in an era of growing economic globalization.

During the last half of 2008, U.S. officials expressed confidence that the trade deal would be approved after the November 4 election. [20]

December 2010 agreement

The December 2010 agreement represented a compromise between the two sides. Significant concessions were granted to the United States on trade in automobiles: tariff reductions for Korean automobiles were delayed for five years, and U.S. autos were granted broader access to the Korean market. At the same time, the negotiators agreed to set aside disagreements over U.S. beef exports for the time being.

The deal was supported by Ford Motor Company, as well as the United Auto Workers, both of which had previously opposed the agreement. Remarking on the UAW's support, an Obama administration official was quoted as saying, "It has been a long time since a union supported a trade agreement" and thus the administration hopes for a "big, broad bipartisan vote" in the U.S. Congress in 2011. [16] At the time of its December 2010 announcement, the White House also published a collection of statements from a wide range of elected officials (Democrats and Republicans), business leaders, and advocacy groups expressing support for the KORUS FTA. [26]

2011 developments

After the opposition party backtracked on their agreement to negotiate the FTA, to a more hardline stance, The ruling Grand National Party could potentially ratify the FTA alone in the parliament. [27]

Seoul wanted products made by South Korean companies in the Kaesong Industrial Region in North Korea included in the deal; Washington did not. The disagreement is unresolved but was not allowed to scupper the deal, which allows for further talks on the subject. [11]

The Seoul Administrative Court has officially decided to release approximately 300 translation errors of the free trade agreement-related documents to public on December 2, 2011. [28]

Lee Jeong-ryeol (이정렬), the chief prosecuting attorney at the Changwon District Court in Gyeongsangnamdo criticized the FTA on his Facebook account, prompting concern from the judicial scene. [29]

There is a judicial movement to establish a special task group to speculate of a possible renegotiation of the agreement. [30] [31]

Renegotiation, 2016–2018

President Donald Trump and the President of South Korea Moon Jae-in deliver remarks after signing the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement on September 24, 2018 The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Signing Ceremony (43084046140).jpg
President Donald Trump and the President of South Korea Moon Jae-in deliver remarks after signing the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement on September 24, 2018

During the United States presidential campaign of 2016, Republican candidate Donald Trump described the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement as a "job-killing trade deal". [32] [33]

On April 27, 2017, President Trump announced his intention to renegotiate or terminate the treaty, describing it as a "one-way street" and "a Hillary Clinton disaster, a deal that should've never been made", characterizing the resulting situation as "We're getting destroyed in Korea" [34] and that "It's a horrible deal, and we are going to renegotiate that deal or terminate it." [35]

According to Trump, "We've told them that we'll either terminate or negotiate; we may terminate", while South Korea's Ministry of Trade said it had yet to receive a request to open renegotiations. [34]

On September 2, 2017, President Trump said he was weighing whether to soon start the process of withdrawing from the agreement. Trump said he was consulting with his top advisors, some of whom supported withdrawal and some of whom – including Gary Cohn, President Trump's chief economic advisor – did not. The United States Chamber of Commerce expressed opposition to withdrawing from the agreement. [36] By October 4, 2017, the Trump administration had backed away from considering a full withdrawal from KORUS FTA and instead agreed with South Korea to renegotiate the deal. [37]

On March 16, 2018, The third round of Korea-U.S. FTA talks has begun. [38] The talks concluded later on March 27, when an agreement in principle was reached between the Trump administration and the South Korean government. The terms included an increase of annual U.S. auto exports from 25,000 vehicles to 50,000 that are only required to meet U.S. safety regulations instead of South Korean regulations. A cap will also be placed on steel exports from South Korea to the United States, though South Korea will remain exempt from the 25% steel tariff the Trump administration placed on most other nations. [9] On the 24th of September, 2018 U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in signed the new agreement at the Lotte Palace hotel in New York City.

Critics did not see any benefit for the United States in these provisions, given the number of exports to South Korea was unlike to reach the lower quota, and Korean car makers were not importing trucks into the United States. [39]

Overfishing complaint

In September 2019, the United States filed an environmental complaint under the agreement, alleging some fishing by South Korean vessels violated fishery management rules. [40]

United States reactions

Opponents

Opponents make the following arguments:

President Obama makes last-minute edits to a speech announcing the KORUS FTA on December 4, 2010. Obama edits speech announcing KORUS FTA.jpg
President Obama makes last-minute edits to a speech announcing the KORUS FTA on December 4, 2010.

Advocates

Advocates make

South Korea reactions

As it does in the United States, the FTA proves a highly divisive issue in Korea. Opposition arguments tend to focus on perceived disparities in the agreement as well as public opinion. Advocates tend to focus on economic predictions.

Opponents

Advocates

South Korean violation

As of 2017, South Korean government still levies 25% tariff rate on imports from the United States. South Korean tax administration has been extensively cracking down and criminalizing personal businesses which sells imported US goods without paying the imposed tariffs.[ citation needed ]

Effects

See also

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