Korean negotiators headed by Deputy Minister for FTA Negotiations Yoo Myung-hee from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and U.S. negotiators led by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Michael Beeman hold the second round of negotiations for the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement , in Seoul on Jan. 31. (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy)

By Kim Eun-young and Kim Young Shin 

Korea and U.S. continued to discuss trade rules at the second round of FTA negotiations, in Seoul on Jan. 31. Korea expressed regret over so-called “safeguard tariffs” on Korean washing machines signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 23. The U.S. also demanded reducing its trade deficit in the auto sector.

The Korean delegation demanded the withdrawal or easing of the “safeguard tariffs,” saying that such unilateral measures, while a mutual and voluntary free trade agreement is in place, is hard to accept.

The officials also requested improvement in the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process and an exemption for Korean good from the U.S. regulation on imported steel.

The current U.S. government is trying to reduce the U.S.’ trade deficit in the auto sector, asking for an easing of the non-tariff barriers that it claims are still in force in Korea, such as safety and environmental regulations that it claims obstruct U.S.-made vehicles from selling more in the Korean market.

The two parties agreed on the necessity of revisions to the FTA in order to reinforce the benefits of fair and balanced trade at the second special session of the Korea-U.S. FTA Joint Committee, held in October 2017. The first round of the negotiations was held in Washington on Jan. 5.