Intro | U.S.-ROK Economic Relations Left Uncertain Amid Leadership Changes

 

While the other parts of this book bring China fully into the coverage—diplomacy, national identities, and sanctions—here we narrow the focus on U.S.-ROK relations with an eye to the current uncertainty about the future of the KORUS FTA, the five-year old bilateral trade agreement. Donald Trump has assumed the presidency critical of trade imbalances in goods, including assertions about the negative impact of the FTA with South Korea. It appears that the U.S. side will insist on renegotiating the agreement. In order to assess what this could mean, we take a close look at what the impact of KORUS has been and at how the debate in Washington has been unfolding under Trump’s watch. The three chapters were written in the early spring of 2017; so they could capture only the initial impact of Trump at a time when South Korean leadership was paralyzed between impeachment and the election of a new president without any serious bilateral engagement over economic issues. Yet, as tensions over economics are expected to rise, our objective is to inform the discussion with relevant economic background and with awareness of what Trump has been saying and how it may shape the political debate.

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