Free Trade Agreement Between U.S. and South Korea

By Lee Youkyung

South Korea and the United States will likely announce a conclusive deal on their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) when their leaders meet in Seoul ahead of the G-20 summit this week, a U.S. businessman said Wednesday.

“My gut feeling is that there will be a breakthrough. The presidents will announce a greater part of the agreement,” Thomas Donahue, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told reporters in Seoul.

“This is a point in time that cannot be missed. And it’s in the interest of both countries and both economies, and I feel positive about coming to conclusion,” he said.

His remarks came as trade ministers of both countries were negotiating in Seoul over pending FTA issues, such as automobiles and beef. The pact, which was signed in 2007, failed to move through the legislatures of both countries, as Washington demanded Seoul to further open its auto and beef markets.

In June, U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pledged to address outstanding trade issues, which mostly concern complaints by the U.S. auto industry about South Korean tax and regulatory policies, by the G-20 summit this week. The two leaders are scheduled to hold a bilateral summit on Thursday.

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