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FTA ambiguity impacts daily business decisions: council

PUBLISHED : October 11, 2017 - 17:20

UPDATED : October 11, 2017 - 17:20

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[THE INVESTOR] Korean and American business leaders met in Washington on Oct. 10 to voice concerns over pending modifications and revisions to the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, as per the US Trump administration’s move to tackle the US’ growing trade deficit.   

During the 29th Joint Conference of Korea-US Business Councils, 30 leaders from Korea and 40 from the US gathered to discuss potential bilateral relationship damages that may result from FTA revisions, as well as voicing dissatisfaction with the governments’ lack of consultation with the business community regarding trade amendments.

According to a joint conference statement by the council, leaders from both sides were united in their stance that the FTA has led to strong economic contributions of foreign direct investment in both nations. 

“Unlike North Korea, this uncertainty (future of KORUS) impacts our day-to-day business decisions, and we see ourselves as primary stakeholders in these discussions,” the joint statement said. “As our two governments continue to have discussions on the future of KORUS, the councils have become concerned with their direction –- and in particular the limited consultation with the business community.”

“The councils have supported KORUS since its infancy, and we continue to strongly support the agreement five years after it entered into force. It has served as a platform to expand bilateral trade and investment and created new business opportunities for both countries,” the statement added. 

Despite local trade experts and the US International Trade Commission arguing the US’ deficit will suffer more without KORUS, the Trump administration continues to cite America’s deepening US$27.6 billion trade deficit with Korea as one the main driving cogs for pushing to modify the now five-year FTA.

As for foreign direct investment, data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Korean firms have invested US$67.8 billion in the States over the past five years, while the US’ investments in Korea was US$22.5 billion.

“We also recognize the economic contributions of foreign direct investment in both the US and Korean markets, and emphasize the importance of ensuring investor confidence,” the statement said, adding that Korean companies -- which to date have invested more than US$95 billion in the States, directly employ more than 45,000 US workers and pay an average wage of US$91,000.

Also on Oct. 11, the Korea International Trade Association announced that the United States, which has been on a trade barrier crusade, is now Korea’s largest import regulator.

According a statement by KITA, the US has imposed a total of 31 import restrictions on the peninsula and now has the most number of import regulations on Korea than any of its trading partners.

The US accounted for eight out of the total 24 new import restrictions for Korea this year alone.

By Julie Jackson/The Korea Herald (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)

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