Following President Trump's promise to renegotiate the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement “right now,” an administration official told Inside U.S. Trade the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will formally request that both countries' joint committee convene in a so-called “special session” to consider potential amendments to the deal – a provision that sources said has never been used before, and one that runs counter to South Korea's conviction that KORUS has been a “mutually beneficial” agreement.
[Jenny Leonard | July 5, 2017 | Inside US Trade]
The administration official said USTR will request the special session under Article 22.2 of the agreement, which will start a 30-day clock until both countries' officials have to meet for the first time.
Talking alongside Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the White House last week, Trump told reporters, “We are renegotiating a trade deal right now with South Korea, and hopefully it will be an equitable deal. It's been a rough deal for the U.S., but I think that it will be much different and will be good for both parties.”
The president's suggestion of a renegotiation created confusion not only with the Korean delegation and on Capitol Hill but also among administration officials, including USTR, sources said.
Sources told Inside U.S. Trade the president's announcement of a new KORUS had not been cleared with USTR but instead was an idea pushed by White House advisers Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, who are said to have repeatedly advocated for a U.S. withdrawal from the deal.