The South Korean government is considering a plan to separate trade talks with the U.S. from the upcoming summit meeting between President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump later this month to focus on pressing security issues, including North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
A high-ranking government official said Wednesday that due to a tight lead time and the gravity of security issues, Cheong Wa Dae and multiple government ministries are working on an idea to leave pending trade issues, including the possible renegotiation of the KOR-US free trade agreement (FTA), to a separate consultative body of top officials from the two countries.
In a recent interview, President Trump called the trade pact with Seoul a "horrible deal", saying that Washington already informed the Seoul government of its intention to renegotiate it.
The formation of a separate consultative body is inspired by preceding summit talks between the U.S. and Japan and the U.S. and China held in February and April, respectively. The Washington government agreed to open a high-level economic meeting channel with Tokyo and to launch a 100-day action plan with Beijing. Seoul is closely watching how these separate channels are working now, the official said.
When President Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, they agreed on a 100-day action plan to address trade imbalance and other thorny issues, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross claimed it is “the most important outcome of the two presidents’ meeting.”
President Moon will fly out to the U.S. on June 28 for a two-day summit with U.S. President Trump starting 29. Moon’s aids, cabinet members and local business leaders will join his first overseas trip to the U.S.
His first state visit to the U.S. will take place 50 days after his inauguration, the fastest record for a Korean president. The two allies face challenges to iron out differences over dealing with North Korea and its alarming missile and nuclear program, the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, and the Korea-U.S. FTA pack under explicitly conservative and liberal leaders.
By Cho Si-young and Park Tae-in
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