US, South Korea leaders fail to agree on free trade deal, talks to continue

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 15, 2010

There’s still no free trade agreement between the US and South Korea; however, leaders from both countries said that the negotiators will continue talks to deal with US concerns that the deal is inadequate to open South Korean markets to US beef and autos.

The failure to revive a stalled free trade agreement by the countries’ leaders put a stop to bilateral trade. At a G20 summit joint news conference with US President Barack Obama and South Korea's Lee Myung-bak, Lee said that it was agreed that more time is required to resolve the issues.

Lee added that both leaders have asked trade ministers to reach a mutually acceptable deal “as soon as possible.” If this deal is ratified by the two countries' assemblies, it would stand out as one of the largest free trade pacts ever.

It would be the largest signed by the US since the North American Free Trade Agreement that became effective in 1994. Studies had indicated that the deal would increase the $66.7 billion annual two-way trade by up to a quarter.

Lee disclosed that negotiations will resume after the G20 meetings are over this week. He denied reports that the trade between the countries was on a fundamentally unfair footing.

Lee explained that the two countries are “more or less an even playing field when US-made parts and intellectual property rights were factored in.”

He revealed that US trade (deficit) against South Korea is about $8 billion a year – a figure that has dropped significantly. Obama said that he was convinced of Lee's commitment and he also expressed confidence that there would soon be an agreement. [via autonews - sub. required]

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