KORUS FTA concessions part of MB’s U.S.-centered strategy, analysts say
: Lee administration figures also say that the KORUS FTA is about the U.S. alliance as much as economic considerations
Dec. 6, 2010
In their South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) renegotiations, South Korea and the United States agreed to draft and submit an additional accord to their respective legislative bodies that includes full-scale revisions to the auto provisions of the previous agreement formally signed in 2007. The accord includes provisions demanded by the United States including an extension of the deadline for automobile tariff abolition, the introduction of a special safeguard, and the relaxation of South Korean safety standards and environmental regulations for U.S. automobiles.
The Lee Myung-bak administration appears unlikely to avoid charges that it conducted “giveaway negotiations” one-sidedly favoring the United States both in content and procedure.
Critics have stated that the auto sector, which the Lee administration had proclaimed a major success at the time of the original agreement’s signing in 2007, ended up the subject of major concessions to the United States, while South Korea’s gains in other sectors such as agricultural were very minor. The Washington Post called the outcome of the renegotiations a “victory for the U.S. president.”
Even those within the Lee administration have acknowledged that there were concessions in the automobile sector. The U.S. government is to maintain a 2.5 percent tariff on Korean automobile imports for four years after the agreement takes effect before abolishing it, while the South Korean government is to immediately lower its automobile tariff from its current 8 percent to 4 percent on the day the agreement takes effect and maintain that rate for four years before abolishing it. This represents a four-year extension of the abolition deadline from the 2007 agreement, where tariffs were to be immediately abolished for South Korean automobiles with displacement under 3000cc.