Seoul readies to defend 'win-win' trade deal against Trump pressure

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in after a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington DC

South Korea is considering the request for a special session of a joint FTA committee, Cho said.

USTR Robert Lighthizer made the notification in a letter to South Korean Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan, calling for the convening of "a special Joint Committee meeting under the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement to start the process of negotiating to remove barriers to US trade and consider needed amendments to the agreement", the office said in a statement.

Bank of Korea says South Korea's economy is likely to expand 2.8 percent this year thanks to strong exports.

"Under the FTA, it is not necessarily obligatory for our side to comply with the USA proposal for amending the FTA", its ministry of trade, industry and energy said in a statement.

As the US seeks to rework what it considers an unfair free trade agreement with South Korea, Seoul hopes to persuade its ally that the deal has actually benefited both sides.

Together with this, Lighthizer demanded that a special joint committee meeting be held in Washington, DC next month. "So the meeting will have to be held after the new trade minister is appointed, and I believe the USA side will certainly understand that too", the official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity. The official stated that the Moon Jae-in administration was looking to hold off all trade negotiations until after the country's new trade minister has been appointed. The issue topped the agenda at a meeting between involving cabinet members from the two countries, including Lighthizer, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"This is quite different from what the previous administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this agreement".

"We will meet and discuss mutual interests and concerns".

During last year's campaign, Trump blamed free trade deals for being a key cause of job losses and other American economic problems in an attempt to woo voters struggling with economic difficulties.

Terms of the trade deal call for the talks to begin within 30 days.

Trump kicked off the discussion by saying his administration wants a deal "that's fair for the US and fair for South Korea". While the United States continues to blame the country for its deepening trade deficit, Korea argues the trade agreement is mutually beneficial. At the same time, imports from South Korea have increased by about 23%.

Trump has opposed multilateral agreements and frequently lashes out at countries that have large trade surpluses with the US.

More than 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed in the South to protect it against nuclear-armed North Korea, which last week for the first time successfully tested a missile that could reach Alaska.

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