Key player of Seoul-Washington FTA picked as trade minister

SEOUL-- New Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong is a trade expert who orchestrated the signing of the country's free trade agreements, including the one with the United States, in the 2000s.

Kim was named the vice minister-level head of the Office of International Trade and Investment under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday.

Kim, who studied politics at Columbia University in the U.S., served as a trade minister under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2004-2008, leading South Korea's major free trade agreements.

He first suggested that discussions on a free trade agreement with South Korea should be held to the United States Trade Representative in 2005. The two countries eventually inked the deal in 2007.

Kim was often called the "trade tutor" for late former President Roh Moo-hyun.

From 2007 to 2008, he served as South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations and later joined Samsung Electronics Co.

In 2016, Kim started his four-year term as a member of the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement body. He currently serves as a professor at the Division of Language & Trade at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Kim's nomination is expected to speed up South Korea's response to U.S. President Donald Trump's push for a renegotiation to amend the two countries' trade deal, which he claims has hurt the U.S. economy.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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