South Korea and the United States concluded additional free trade talks in Washington on December third. The talks provided the foundation for the two countries to seek parliamentary ratification of the trade accord.
The two sides had initially concluded trade talks and even held an accord-signing ceremony on June 30th, 2007. However, the effectuation of the trade deal was delayed with no progress made in ratification efforts.
In South Korea, the National Assembly passed a motion on ratifying the trade pact and was awaiting a vote during a plenary session. However, in the United States, efforts to ratify the trade pact hit a snag with Washington’s lukewarm attitude toward such efforts and protests from multiple lawmakers.
Then, the two countries came to hold additional talks after President Barack Obama demonstrated active interest in pushing forward the trade deal this year.
During the additional discussions, the two countries agreed to postpone for five years the abolition of a two-point-five percent U.S. tariff on South Korean auto imports. The two sides also agreed to delay by two years the elimination of tariffs on U.S. pork imports until 2016. With the concessions it made, Seoul was able to block Washington from making requests on expanding U.S. beef exports to South Korea.
However, the results of the additional trade talks have drawn criticism from some who say South Korea made too many concessions. Efforts to ratify the trade deal are expected to face difficulties, as the main opposition Democratic Party has vowed to block ratification efforts