Leaders of S. Korea, U.S. welcome revision to bilateral FTA

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the conclusion of negotiations to amend the countries' bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) on Monday, vowing efforts to implement it swiftly.

"We, the Presidents of the Republic of Korea and the United States of America, hereby reaffirm our close alliance and the importance of maintaining strong, mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between our peoples," the leaders said in a joint statement issued at the end of their bilateral summit in New York.

"We welcome the successful conclusion of negotiations between our governments that have resulted in amendments and modifications to improve the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement," they added.

Under the revised FTA, the U.S. will extend a 25 percent tariff on imports of South Korean pickup trucks by 20 years to 2041, while Seoul will double the number of U.S. cars not subject to its local industry regulations to 50,000.

"South Korea will double the number of American cars sold ...(to) 50,000 per manufacturer of cars," Trump said in a joint press conference.

The changes, which come at a U.S. request, were approved by the South Korean Cabinet last week. The revised FTA was signed Monday by the countries' trade ministers. It still needs to be ratified by the countries' legislatures.

The U.S. president said the revised Korea-U.S. FTA was in fact a new trade agreement that will help reduce his country's trade deficit.

"I am very excited about our new trade agreement. And this is a brand new agreement. This is not an old one, rewritten," Trump said earlier while meeting Moon for a bilateral summit here.

Moon said the revised Korea-U.S. FTA will benefit both countries while also strengthening their alliance.

"South Korea and the United States enjoy unprecedentedly strong friendship based on their strong alliance. This agreement means such friendship will be expanded to the economic field," he said before signing the joint statement with Trump.

"With today's signing of our newly concluded agreement, we pledge to direct our officials to move forward with additional steps, as required in our respective countries, to bring the updated agreement into force as soon as practicable," Moon and Trump said in their joint statement.

"We furthermore welcome this achievement as tangible evidence of the strength of the relationship between our two countries," they added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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