Korea Trade Talks Moving Slowly

Third round last week provided no significant movement in key areas.

Published on: Sep 12, 2006

Monday a U.S. trade official expressed disappointment in South Korea Free Trade Agreement progress. Last week leaders met in Seattle for the third round of negotiations.

The Seattle meeting held the first opportunity for the two nations to agree on specific reduce tariffs in specified products. In August, the two exchanged initial tariff offers in agricultural and industrial goods. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said "U.S. negotiators improved on initial tariff offers by submitting revised offers in the textile and apparel area and on industrial tariffs during talks last week," Congress Daily reports.

Cutler told reporters she had hoped for more "give and take and improvements to offers" She is still optimistic negotiators can meet an end of the year goal for finalizing the agreement. This would allow the President to approve the bill under his trade promotion authority before it expires in July 2007.

The next negotiating session is scheduled for Oct. 23 in South Korea.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is meeting President Bush Thursday in Washington, and the bilateral trade agreement will be one area of discussion between the two presidents. South Korean
Trade Minister Hyun-chong Kim also is in town this week for meetings.