Friction in US-South Korea trade alliance?

(From Korea Times)

By Choi Sung-jin

A warning light is flickering over the economic alliance between Korea and the United States.

Politicians in Washington are complaining about the increasing U.S. trade deficit and what they view as Seoul’s failure to implement what was agreed on in the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), officials said here Monday.

US-SKoreaAccording to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Senate Financial Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch recently sent a letter to Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young. In it, the U.S. politician said Korea’s implementation of the FTA falls short of expectations and he vowed to link the matter to Seoul’s plan to join the U.S.-led free trade bloc – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Republican from Utah especially raised five issues: the process of determining drug prices, transparency of investigations by the Fair Trade Commission, opening of the legal services market, use of illegally copied software by government agencies and rules on offshore outsourcing of financial information, ministry officials said.

Behind these complaints is the widening U.S. deficit in trade with Korea, particularly since their free trade accord went into effect in March 2012. According to the Korea International Trade Association, the U.S. trade shortfall grew from $13.26 billion in 2011 to $28.32 billion last year. There are reportedly loud voices of disgruntlement that “the FTA has benefited only Korea.” Read more

Categories: Asia Unhedged, Koreas

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