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New round to play vital role in conclusion of KORUS FTA

Feb '07
The Korean chief negotiator Kim Jong-hoon stressed on Feb.11 (Sunday) that the seventh round of KORUS FTA (Korea-U.S. free trade agreement) negotiations will be pivotal for the success of the bilateral trade talks, saying that he called for his American counterpart to work closely together to strike a deal on the talks.

The Korean top trade official made the remarks at a news conference for Korean reporters late Sunday after finishing the first day of trade negotiations between Seoul and Washington.

“We will exert utmost efforts to make significant progress at this round in order to lay foundation for conclusion of the bilateral deal until end of March,” stated Kim at the conference.

As both negotiation teams are increasingly feeling the pressure to conclude the deal, the seventh round of Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) began on February 11 in Washington, DC, during which all fields of the agreement are to be discussed, drawing closer to concluding the accord.

“The fact that we are starting on a Sunday, demonstrates the commitment and diligence of both negotiating teams to concluding this agreement,” said Wendy Cutler, the chief negotiator for the U.S.

In the current session, Cutler told the reporters that all 17 groups will meet with two working groups, which includes four sections that were not included in the sixth round: Automobiles, pharmaceutical, trade remedies, and SPS.

As the “fast track” negotiationauthority of the U.S. president set to expire on June 30, the representatives from both sides would have to conclude the deal by late March, or early April. The current deadline is set to April 2.

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