Korea and the United States agreed to amend their bilateral free trade agreement to further strengthen mutual benefits after a second round of talks held between Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong and his U.S. counterpart Robert Lighthizer in Washington.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy says the two sides agreed on the need for changes after extensive discussions on various issues related to the deal as well as the focus and direction of an amendment.
"Both sides each discussed in-depth sectors they're concerned about. We've presented our research findings in detail and the U.S. has listened attentively. We've even exchanged views on some of the issues."
With this, the ministry says it will carry out necessary procedures to begin negotiations for an amendment starting next week, including a study, public hearings and reports to the National Assembly.
Heated debate is expected on the impact on the country's automobile, steel and agricultural sectors while the amendment process itself could be initiated early next year.
Political parties from both ends of the spectrum responded that the government should prioritize national interests.
The ruling Democratic Party called for cooperation from rival parties and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party echoed the sentiment although criticizing the government for giving into U.S. pressure.
In the five years since the FTA came into effect in 2012 bilateral trade between the two countries reached 112.2-billion U.S. dollars with Korea being the sixth largest trading partner of the U.S.
The move is seen as a concession by Seoul to the requests from Washington, which sees the deal as unfavorable to American businesses and workers.
Calls to terminate the FTA came about after U.S. President Donald Trump called it a "job killer" and a "horrible deal" during his presidential campaign last year.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.