US Mission Due for Free Trade Accord

Article excerpt

The United States is stepping up efforts to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Korea, as was reported here on January 14.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is set to dispatch its fact- finding mission to Seoul at the end of this month or early next month, according to trade sources familiar with the issue.

The delegation, which will consist of American economists, will meet policymakers and business leaders with the goal of analyzing the impact of the free trade accord between Korea and the United States, he said.

The U.S. has been pressing ahead with the FTA with Korea since it inked similar pacts with a number of countries including Mexico, Canada, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

It is now pushing for negotiations with Singapore in this respect but the prospect has remained dim due to the growing resistance from U.S.

enterprises.

The U.S. business concerns express a negative opinion regarding the envisaged FTA with Singapore, given that the island country's economy has virtually been liberalized in full swing, said an official from the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

But in the case of Korea, prospects for the establishment of an FTA has been relatively bright as the American firms and research institutes back the idea.

For one thing, the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AmCham) has recently called for the signing of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the two countries as the initial step toward the FTA.

As the issue involving screen quotas has been a major barrier in bids to establish the BIT, the chamber even advised Seoul and Washington to sign the treaty with the exclusion of the screen quota issue. …