The South Korean trade minister says his country will not take a step backward in the upcoming discussions on updating the South Korean – U.S. free trade deal, known as KORUS. The Korean Herald says he told reporters that the government is taking a “strong stand on the agriculture sector and will not retreat any further.” This was similar to a comment made by the top Korean negotiator back in October that said the ag sector is a “red line.”
The U.S. is looking to narrow the trade deficit it currently faces in trade with South Korea. The trade minister said America is looking to export more goods from the auto and steel industries but did say another option the U.S. may want is to export more farm goods. Over five years after the deal was first ratified, U.S. calls for renegotiation are worrying the South Korean ag sector that it might be undermined as the country is already dealing with product oversupply.
A public hearing on November 10 in South Korea was interrupted by farmers demanding the deal be ended. They were upset about a government feasibility study that showed renegotiation would have little impact on the economy, saying it “misrepresented the local ag economy.”