Report outlines amendment scenarios for KORUS FTA

Posted on : 2017-11-03 18:26 KST Modified on : 2017-11-03 18:26 KST
Despite previously being designated a “red-line,” additional openness in agriculture other than rice could be discussed

Three to four “highly realistic” amendment scenarios for the South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) are being considered in a report on the economic feasibility of changes to the agreement, including additional openness in sensitive agricultural product areas and looser conditions on service and investment sector openness. The South Korean government plans to publish the report at a KORUS FTA amendment hearing scheduled for Nov. 10.

Sources with the state economic think tanks in charge of the report’s drafting said on Nov. 2 that one major scenario under examination would involve pursuing “additional openness and early tariff abolition” above current tariff concession levels, moving up the tariff abolition timeline for hundreds of manufacturing items and including additional openness for some “sensitive” agricultural products.

“Rice was not included among the concessions,” noted one source participating in the report’s drafting. “But the [scenarios] are including additional tariff schedules for sensitive items [protected through long-term tariff abolition schedules of 15 years or more] in agricultural and other products, and possible additional openness for [products where duties are still in place] based on a long concession period and incremental opening.”

The announcement is expected to generate some shock waves, as it differs from trade authorities’ initial position that agriculture was a “red line” that could not be crossed. The same source said that “additional openness in the form of looser conditions on entering the South Korean market is being reflected and considered in the scenarios.”

Trade ministers reportedly provided the team drafting the report with a prediction of how the existing concessions for several sensitive items could change in future negotiations based on a list of demands from the US, along with amendment opinions for individual domestic industries.

By Cho Kye-wan, staff reporter

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