Reflecting on 2018’s Korean-U.S. trade negotiations, with recent ratification by Korean National Assembly, the KORUS FTA revisions have mitigated, not exacerbated, trade friction between both
Post-Election Results for Korean-U.S. Relations
As the newly-elected members of the U.S. and Senate begin preparing for the next two years, we thought this would be a good time to review the impact of the elections on our legislative priorities and agenda.
This first thing to remember is that the U.S.-Korea diplomatic momentum isn’t slowing down for a moment while the dust settles. The U.S.-Korea Connect partnership continues to formulate our bilateral strategies reinforcing our relationships with our two national economies. We are seeking to identify new opportunities to provide information, tools, and resources for businesses interested in taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities available through the KORUS FTA to export goods, services and ideas. Our work is not slowing down.
The second thing to recognize is that the structure of the House and its committees – including those with authority for our issues – will be a work-in-progress. With a Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate, there are a range of policy areas that could be the subject of bipartisan reform in the coming two years, including infrastructure, immigration, trade policy, and autonomous vehicles. While some of these may be difficult to manage because of their polarizing impact within the American electorate, the President has announced a willingness to work with the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to reach deals on these issues.
While the areas of policy focus for a divided Congress are largely domestic in nature, there are opportunities for Korean-U.S. relations to play a key role. Given South Korea’s strengths in vehicle and automotive parts, electronic goods, construction, and machinery production, the potential for infrastructure and autonomous vehicle legislation could provide business opportunities for partnered Korean-U.S. companies. In addition, there are continued opportunities for increased bilateral trade in goods, agricultural products, and services, as well as a favorable climate for Korean investment in the United States.
With those caveats in mind, there are a couple of points to make on our issues. First and foremost, much of our agenda is carried out at the business level, through interests that focus on international business partnerships that thrive near, but outside legislation on Capitol Hill. Those agencies haven’t changed, and the relationships both nations have built will continue to strengthen as parties review regulatory changes that are beneficial to our economies.
Second, do not expect any significant legislative initiatives to pass that don’t enjoy broad bipartisan support. With the Senate controlled by the Republicans and the House by the Democrats, only must-pass appropriations bills will be at the front of the agenda. Other issues that could up-end or revise the benefits of the recently-signed KORUS FTA are unlikely to change drastically at unexpected pace.
Finally, we view the increased oversight of the Federal agencies by the incoming House majority to be an opportunity. We will vigorously defend the programs and regulations that are important to our bilateral priorities and use every opportunity to find the best solutions to improve international partnerships and promote the free flow of products and services between the United States and Korea.
And we need your support! Businesses interested in learning more about the KORUS FTA and the benefits it can deliver are encouraged to join Business Connect, a network of businesses in the United States and Korea. Members will receive timely information about KORUS FTA news and opportunities. This will ensure that we can meet the new Congress with the insight we need for our mutual economic benefits.