U.S. encourages South Korea to join Trans-Pacific trade talks

Reuters / The United States would welcome South Korea joining negotiations on an Asia-Pacific free trade agreement, a senior U.S. trade official said on April 3, as Washington continues to weigh Japan’s bid to enter the same set of talks.

“We do think it’s natural and logical for Korea to join this negotiation. We think they would have a lot to offer,” Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said in a speech at the Wilson Center, a foreign policy think-tank.

The United States and South Korea are already free trade partners under a one-year-old agreement.

Cutler, who was the lead negotiator on that pact, said Washington sees Seoul as a natural ally in helping shape the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a proposed regional agreement that Japan has asked to join.

The TPP negotiations include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

Bringing in Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, into the negotiation would set the stage for a final agreement covering the nearly 40 per cent of world economic output.

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