Posted October. 12, 2017 08:34,
Updated October. 12, 2017 09:19
The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held the 29th Joint Conference of Korea-U.S. Business Councils in Washington Tuesday (local time) and released a joint statement that "The Councils urge the two governments to work constructively to preserve a trade agreement that is a pillar of the Korea-U.S. alliance.” The Business Councils voiced concerns, saying, "Breaking the pact would have broader geopolitical ramifications at a critical time for Korean and U.S. security, and it would damage the bilateral relationship." The Conference of Korea-U.S. Business Council is a private consultative organization that was founded in 1988 by the FKI and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to promote economic cooperation and stronger ties. It set out the framework for the two countries' economic alliance by suggesting the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) for the first time in 2000.
The fact that the business councils of South Korea and the United States are jointly crying out the preservation of FTA despite threats of withdrawal from the agreement by President Donald Trump's administration, is clear evidence that the FTA is a win-win partnership for both countries. The councils said that the termination of the KORUS FTA will weaken export competitiveness of businesses in both countries and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs as well. In particular, "The causes of the U.S. trade deficit with Korea are macroeconomic in nature and are not attributable to the KORUS," stated by the councils, should be taken seriously by the Trump administration.
This business conference was participated not just by the major corporations of Korea and the United States but also by former commerce officials and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert. Although FTA negotiation is carried out by government authorities, there is a need to focus on economic diplomacy in the private sector as well. Inserting efforts to acquire allies in U.S. Congress or high ranking diplomates and business figures is also crucial. In this backdrop, it was timely for the Korea-U.S. Business Councils to express their concern over the possible imposition of safeguard restrictions on Korean solar panels and washers by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
The first stakeholders of the FTA are the business councils of South Korea and the United States. Negotiations should be carried out in a way to reflect each nation’s voice appropriately. South Korea will not be swayed even if the United States threatens to abolish the agreement and make unreasonable requests, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said during an audit session by the National Assembly Tuesday. The National Assembly should put their differences away and cooperate so that South Korea can protect its profits as much as possible during renegotiation of the FTA.