New trade minister vows to strike balance with partners over trade

SEJONG-- South Korea's new trade chief pledged Friday to try to seek a balance with major trading partners over trade amid looming talks with the United States that could lead to an amendment of the existing free trade agreement (FTA).

The bilateral open trade pact, which went into effect in 2012, has widely been considered a symbol of deepening economic ties, but U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to fix or scrap the free trade deal, calling it "horrible."

Last month, South Korea proposed that Seoul and Washington hold a joint study on the effects of the FTA. It was the first official response to the U.S. Trade Representative's request earlier July that the two sides meet to discuss possible amendments to the deal.

New Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said negotiations that are unilaterally advantageous to one side are neither possible nor sustainable.

"We will make efforts consistently and aggressively to strike a balance in terms of shared benefits with our major trading partners," Kim said in an inaugural speech in the administrative city of Sejong, about 150 kilometers south of Seoul.

South Korea has clinched a series of free trade agreements with major trading partners, including the U.S. and China, in recent years as part of its efforts to boost growth in the country's export-driven economy.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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