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FTA talks with US may end on a healthy note

Mar '07
The five-day run Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks that opened in Seoul on March 8, 2007 between South Korea and the United States would possibly end on a healthy note according to a South Korean official.

Addressing the media Kim Jong-hoon, the chief South Korean negotiator said "Progress has been made on key issues" referring to the most controversial areas like antidumping remedies.

According to South Korean Assistant Commerce Minister Kim Young-hak who met Scott Quesenberry, top textiles negotiator from the US Trade Representatives, substantial progress has been made in the areas of textiles which is an area of concern to South Korea.

South Korea wants US to abolish its average 13 percent tariffs on local textile goods and also to allow the use of cheap Chinese yarns for its goods to be sold in the US market.

In 2006, South Korea sold US $1.8 billion worth of textiles to US, which is 5 percent less compared to 2005 figures, but if US eliminates the import tariffs, the country can increase its textile exports upto $600 million a year.

The officials make out that though the sensitive issues would still remain unresolved after this round of talks, they can be successfully tackled in the coming weeks at unofficial high-level contacts.

The two countries did about $74 billion in two-way trade in 2006 but the FTA would increase trade volume by 20 percent.

For US an FTA with South Korea would be its biggest commercial pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.

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