Trade representatives will meet today to discuss renegotiating the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. KORUS has governed trade between the two since 2012.
In 2016, the US imported $81 billion from South Korea and exported only $63.8 billion. Donald Trump has labelled the $16 billion trade deficit “horrible,” accusing South Korean industry of exploiting regulations to supplant American production of products like cars with their own.
With the success of its continually growing technology sector, South Korean exports have defied global protectionist policies by rising for nine months straight—including at a six-year high of 24.2% in April. The network of large South Korean conglomerates known as chaebols, including Samsung and Hyundai, are intimately linked to the governing apparatus, which would likely go to great lengths to defend them.
While Trump has promised to reduce the total trade deficit, most likely by seeking protections for American automakers, experts argue a renegotiated KORUS won’t bring jobs back to America. South Korea, for its part, has “not agreed on renegotiation of the deal”, and will defend the benefit of free trade to US industry.