Remarks of Ambassador Katherine Tai at the Start of the KORUS Joint Committee

November 19, 2021

SEOUL – United Trade Representative Katherine Tai co-chaired the Joint Committee meeting of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). For most of the past decade, KORUS was the foundation of the U.S. – Korea trade and economic relationship between mature partners with shared democratic values. The remarks as delivered are below.

Thank you for your remarks, Minister Yeo. It is a pleasure to be here in Seoul, and I want to thank you and your whole team for arranging and hosting this meeting – I know it is a lot of work.

Korea is one of our most valued trading partners, and one of our closest allies. The KORUS FTA continues to be both a reflection of that close relationship and the foundation upon which we can build to make it even more close and cooperative.

The value of KORUS, and the closeness of our relationship, is demonstrated by the continued efforts and hard work of both our countries to use the KORUS Committees and Working Groups to clarify policies, resolve trade irritants, and ensure that our obligations are fully implemented.

In the almost 10 years since KORUS entered into force, these efforts have never waned. We have continued to hold meetings of the various committees and working groups as frequently as we did at the beginning. Even during the pandemic, we were able to quickly adapt and continue to keep these vital efforts going.

And I so am pleased to say that we continue to resolve concerns. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the Korean government’s efforts this year to resolve a longstanding issue related to the reinsurance industry and its ability to transfer information cross-border. While final details are still being clarified, I understand that significant progress has been achieved.

While not glamorous, this work of monitoring each other’s policies and resolving our trade irritants remains important. And our stakeholders and our legislatures look closely at KORUS and whether issues are being resolved when deciding whether trade agreements are working for us.

Finally, I want to highlight how we are taking our dialogue in new directions and thank Minister Yeo, for his dedication in making sure we are using our KORUS foundation to discuss how we can tackle major issues and challenges that we are facing today, such as supply chain resilience, labor rights, environmental protection, and excess capacity.

Our agenda today has a strong focus on this new kind of dialogue, and I look forward to this afternoon’s discussions.

Thank you so much.