April 8, 2013
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Affairs Wendy Cutler spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center during a panel discussion on U.S. economic cooperation with the Republic of Korea and the broader Asia-Pacific region. At the event, entitled “South Korea and the U.S. Pivot to Asia,” Cutler gave an overview of the important role the Republic of Korea plays in the United States’ engagement with the region.
Cutler said the bilateral trade pact, also known as KORUS, is a core pillar of economic relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea that has spurred cooperation on other fronts.
Cutler served as the chief negotiator for the agreement, which entered into force a year ago, and she cited examples of the cooperation it has spurred. For instance, Cutler said, the two countries have cooperated closely in APEC and have also been working together increasingly to expand trade in services through the proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which includes a diverse group of 21 partners.
In 2012, the United States and the Republic of Korea shared $101 billion in total two-way goods trade. The top U.S. exports to Republic of Korea were machinery, aircraft, and optical and medical instruments, while top imports from the republic were cars, electrical machinery, and mineral fuel.
Cutler also addressed progress being made in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. She cited the similarities between the high standard KORUS agreement and the TPP, as well as the benefits of TPP membership.
The United States is involved in the TPP negotiations with 10 other nations (and more nations may join) for a 21st-century trade agreement that will provide market access for goods, services and investment, and government procurement.
The 16th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations concluded March 13 in Singapore, with chief negotiators reporting that they had achieved the goal set for the round: to put the negotiations on an accelerated track toward conclusion of an agreement in the 2013 timeframe envisioned by President Obama and the leaders of the 10 other TPP countries. In addition to the United States, TPP members are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
In mid-April, TPP trade ministers will meet on the margins of the APEC Trade Ministers meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia, to discuss progress to date and provide further guidance to negotiators. As the negotiations draw to a close, high-level officials will be more actively engaged with one another on ways to address the remaining sensitive issues, USTR says.
The 17th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Lima, Peru, from May 15–24.