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US Seeks to Renegotiate 2012 Free-Trade Deal with South Korea


FILE - President-elect Donald Trump speaks with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 13, 2017. Trump has called the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement a "horrible" trade deal.

The Trump administration has informed South Korea that it wants to renegotiate their five-year old free-trade agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter Wednesday to his South Korean counterpart, Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan, calling for a joint committee meeting "to remove barriers to U.S. trade and consider needed amendments" to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as KORUS.

The talks will be held within the next 30 days, as called for under the terms of the agreement.

Lighthizer issued a statement saying the U.S. trade deficit in goods with South Korea has more doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion since taking effect in 2012. But some experts say the U.S. enjoys a trade surplus under the deal in the services sector, such as banking and tourism.

South Korea's Trade Ministry said in a statement the meeting does not imply that Seoul will agree to renegotiate the pact. It says the two sides must first determine whether KORUS is actually responsible for the trade imbalance.

The push to renegotiate the deal, which President Donald Trump has dismissed as "horrible," is part of Trump's effort to fulfill his campaign pledge to either renegotiate or cancel various trade deals negotiated under his predecessors, claiming they have cost the United States jobs and put the nation at a competitive disadvantage.

Trump has already pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multinational trade deal reached with 11 other countries under his predecessor, Barack Obama, and his administration will soon begin talks on renegotiating the two-decade old North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.