S. Korean negotiator calls for 'more flexibility' in free trade talks with U.S.

SOUTH KOREA - South Korea and the U.S. have so far achieved significant progress in their free trade talks but they still need "more flexibility" to sign a deal in time, a Seoul official said Tuesday.
calendar icon 6 February 2007
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"At this point, with time running out, both sides must show more flexibility to build momentum to accelerate negotiations," Kim Jong-hoon, the chief South Korean negotiator, said in a prepared speech for a meeting with business leaders in Seoul on Wednesday.

Nine-month-old South Korea-U.S. free trade talks are believed to be on the home stretch as both sides want to conclude them by the end of March at the latest.

A seventh round of talks is scheduled for Feb. 11-14 in Washington.

April 2 is a U.S.-set legal deadline for a free trade deal to be presented for an official 90-day congressional review for an outright yes-or-no vote without amendments.

Kim said the two sides so far have laid down the "basic groundwork" for the proposed deal by making concessions in less sensitive areas such as tariff phase-out on industrial goods.

However, they still are "conservative" on key issues, including South Korea's demand for the U.S. to soften its anti-dumping laws and Washington's request for Seoul to change its tax rules on American automobiles, according to a text of Kim's speech obtained by Yonhap News Agency.

Source: Yonhap News
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