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Korea's trade minister meets with US counterpart

South Korea's trade minister met with his US counterpart to increase understanding on economic cooperation between the two countries, his office here said Thursday.

In a meeting with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington, Joo Hyung-hwan said the South Korea-US free trade agreement has contributed to expanding bilateral trade and investment and creating jobs in both countries since its implementation in 2012, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

South Korea's Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan (right) shakes hands with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington on March 8, 2017 (local time). (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy)
South Korea's Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan (right) shakes hands with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington on March 8, 2017 (local time). (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy)

Joo is on a four-day visit to the United States to engage in talks with Ross, who took the helm of the Department of Commerce last week, and other officials and experts there.

The two ministers agreed to widen investment in the manufacturing industry and bolster cooperation in the energy sector based on the Seoul-Washington trade pact.

"Through the meeting with Ross, we've established a trade and business cooperative channel with the new US administration," the ministry said.

Also, the South Korean trade minister held talks with Orrin Hatch, chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee; Edwin Feulner, former president of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation; and Tami Overby, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Concerns have been rising in South Korea that the US government under President Donald Trump may take what some call protectionist measures, in line with his motto "America First."

After taking office, Trump withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade deal, and has stepped up attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

He has also given hints that his next target could be the pact with South Korea, which he denounced as a job-killing deal during the campaign.

South Korea is the sixth-largest trading partner with the US, with total trade volume reaching $112.2 billion in 2016.

Bilateral trade nearly doubled over the last decade. (Yonhap)

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