SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean government will establish a plan to renegotiate the free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States and notify its course of action to the National Assembly, the trade ministry said Monday.
Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong held a meeting with officials from 20 ministries and government organizations to share issues related to the open trade pact, called the KORUS FTA, and come up with effective negotiating strategies.
The meeting comes after the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Friday held the second round of public hearings with industry officials, researchers and the general public to collect opinions on the five-year-old deal.
“We hope to submit the plan to lawmakers possibly within this month, but the schedule is up to the parliament as the budget bill is currently under review,” said a senior trade official, who attended the disclosed meeting.
Submitting a plan would effectively wrap up the domestic procedures needed for opening talks with Washington.
Local farmers and stockbreeders have opposed any additional market opening to the U.S., claiming they suffered substantial damage over the past five years. Seoul officials have said the agricultural sector will be “the red line” in the future talks.
The trade ministry also said it will push for opening talks to sign the FTA with Mercosur, South America’s leading trading bloc composed of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
“We have to actively respond to trade issues and push for policies that would expand the future growth drivers,” Kim was quoted as saying in the closed meeting.
The bloc’s combined market encompasses more than 290 million people and accounts for more than three-quarters of the economic activity on the continent worth $2.7 trillion, according to the ministry data.