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FTA with US likely to be inked by March-end

20
Mar '07
Korea and US may sign an FTA by end of March. Kim Jong-hoon, Chief South Korean Negotiator for the FTA, informed reporters that he wants to sort out differences by next week.

On the first day of three-day long informal talks with Assistant US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler, Jong-hoon stated that many issues have already been solved. He will try to resolve remaining differences to the maximum extent possible.

He was optimistic on inking of the FTA by end of this month.

Both sides had arranged informal meetings exclusively for top level negotiators as they failed to resolve sensitive issues like textiles, automobiles, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and anti-dumping remedies through formal negotiations for ten months.

If outstanding issues remain after the three-day meeting, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong and US Trade Representative Susan Schwab will hold a meeting in Seoul next week. If this does not work, Presidents of both nations will look into the matter.

FTA could upturn bilateral trade by 20 percent. Bilateral trade stood at US $74 billion in 2006.

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