South Korea and the United States failed to meet the deadline set by US President Barack Obama for completing protracted talks over auto and beef trade aimed at winning congressional approval for their free trade agreement (FTA).
“We agreed that more time is needed to resolve detailed issues,” South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told reporters after a summit with Obama here on the sidelines of the G-20 summit set to open later in the day. “We agreed to produce a mutually acceptable agreement as early as possible.”
Lee stressed that the two sides will continue negotiations after the end of the two-day Seoul G-20 summit, saying, “Probably, (the talks) won’t take a long time.”
Obama previously instructed his trade officials to resolve remaining differences in the FTA, signed in 2007, before the Seoul G-20 summit so that he could send it to Congress by early next year.
Top trade officials from both sides have unsuccessfully engaged in intensive negotiations in Seoul aimed at settling outstanding issues, especially the U.S. demand that South Korea lower trade barriers for its automakers and beef exporters.
“U.S. President Obama and I agreed to give more time to the trade ministers of the two nations,” Lee said.