Korea yesterday agreed to accept a U.S. request to hold additional talks over their bilateral free trade agreement, despite public criticism here over reopening an already sealed agreement.
"After careful review of the U.S. proposal and having the confidence in a successful FTA, the government decided to hold additional talks with the United States," Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. "To ensure that we understand the significance of the U.S. proposal and its possible impact, we will not rush the talks."
The decision comes amid concerns over reigniting strong opposition against the deal that was sealed in April after about 10 months of laborious negotiations.
Washington submitted a formal request to Seoul last weekend to hold additional talks to reflect the U.S. government's newly strengthened labor and environmental requirements.
Korea and the United States had concluded negotiations in April and they planed to sign the accord on June 30.
Korean ministers held a meeting yesterday, presided over by Minister of Finance and Economy Kwon O-kyu, and they reached a decision to accept Washington's request, officials said.
The additional negotiations are expected to take place from June 21 to 22 in Seoul. Wendy Cutler, the assistant U.S. trade representative who led the Korea-U.S. FTA talks, is expected to head a team of U.S. trade negotiators. Despite the U.S. Congress call for stronger labor and environmental clauses, topics will also likely include pharmaceuticals, government procurement, investment, and port safety.
By Yoo Soh-jung