US, Korea agree to tackle KORUS implementation issues, amendments

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Countries expecting to wrangle over automotive rules.

The meeting followed an earlier session on 22 August in Seoul, which came after requests from the USA for "possible amendments and modifications" to KORUS. They point out that America's trade deficit in goods with South Korea has more than doubled, to $27 billion, since the treaty came into effect in 2012. Since Seoul announced the suspension of operations at Kaesong last February, satellite imagery has shown North Korea has run and re-located South Korean-owned buses.

USA officials have said the agreement has become too lopsided in Korea's favor and that changes were necessary to provide a better balance, especially with a large autos deficit.

South Korea treats the first 25,000 USA -made vehicles imported by each manufacturer per year as compliant with local safety and testing regulations, so long as the vehicles meet US standards.

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In accordance with South Korean law, the ministry will carry out the procedures necessary to begin negotiations for an amendment, including an economic feasibility study, public hearings and reports to parliament, it added. "We think a way to cut through that would be to remove that 25,000-vehicle cap".

Trump has repeatedly slammed the bilateral trade deal, calling it a "job killer" for the United States. The deal "is particularly important from a geopolitical and strategic perspective", it said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong emerged from their second meeting of a special joint committee under the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as KORUS, with a mutual understanding that the deal needed to be tweaked.

"President Trump continues to keep his promises to lower our trade deficit and negotiate better trade deals for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses", said Lighthizer.

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