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Korea, US fail to agree on Kaesong-made goods

Chosun Ilbo, Korea

Korea, U.S. Fail to Agree on Kaesong-Made Goods

7 June 2006

The first round of free-trade negotiations between Korea and the U.S. failed to produce agreement on products made at the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. The issue will be carried over into the second round in Seoul next month, but Korea will have a hard time overcoming U.S. resistance to including products from the border town.

Korea’s top negotiator to the talks Kim Jong-hoon told reporters Tuesday there would be no agreement on the matter in this round, which ends Friday. Instead, the two sides’ divergent viewpoints will be recorded in the minutes.

Kim vowed to continue pressing the U.S. on the issue. "The issue is not just economic but also a political problem that needs to be addressed taking into account many factors including improvement in North Korea-U.S. relations," he added.

The two countries started negotiations in 11 sectors including agriculture on Monday, with another six — including cars and pharmaceuticals — to be discussed from Wednesday. The U.S. is demanding that Korea bases its automobile tax on car price rather than engine displacement, which disadvantages the giant gas-guzzling vehicles made in the U.S.

Some 40 Korean opponents of the FTA have been demonstrating around the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative since June 4. They plan another march where they will bow once every three steps near the White House on Wednesday. Korean-American organizations in Washington, Northern Virginia and other parts of the U.S. at a press conference urged the Korean protestors to stop, saying their demonstrations only bring international disgrace to Korea.