Korea, US. conclude preliminary FTA panel meetings
Korea and the United States concluded two days of preliminary talks in Washington aimed at fueling trade following the implementation of the bilateral free trade pact, the foreign ministry said Saturday.
Seoul and Washington established the minister-level Joint Committee and 19 subcommittees and working groups to oversee the implementation of the landmark free trade agreement that went into force on March 15.
During the two days of talks, committees on trade in goods, trade remedy, service and investment, and the working group on small and medium-sized enterprises met and touched on outstanding issues that could further promote a fair and open trade environment.
The ministry said that next round of talks will be held after both sides have had an chance to examine results of the latest talks.
Seoul, meanwhile, said formal discussion on the so-called investor-state dispute (ISD) clause in the FTA will be held as soon as South Korea can clarify its position on the matter.
"An overview of the dispute settlement clause was handled at the service and investment committee," a ministry source said. He said touching on the issue at the committee meeting signifies that negotiations have started, which was a key pledge made by Seoul to address domestic concerns on ISD.
The government said earlier in the year that it will kickoff talks no more than 90 days after the FTA goes into effect.
ISD has been a source of contention because South Korea's opposition parties have claimed this investment safeguard mechanism undermines the country's legal independence by allowing U.S. companies to take action against Seoul's policy decisions.
They have demanded the government address the concern by altering relevant clauses that they argue unfairly favor American firms with experience in legal battles against a foreign government.
The government, however, has countered that the clause benefits South Korean companies in the United States as well and is part of most full-fledged FTA deals. (Yonhap)