U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said Washington wants to "reform" the free trade agreement with Korea, which was something of a bugbear for President Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce meeting in Seoul, Pence said, "Our businesses continue to face too many barriers to entry which tilts the playing field against the American workers and American growth... We are reviewing all of our trade agreements across the world to ensure they benefit our economy as much as they benefit our trading partners."
"Most concerning is the fact that the U.S. trade deficit with [Korea] has more than doubled since the [FTA] came into effect. That's the hard truth. We will work toward that end to reform" the trade deal.
The FTA went into effect in 2012.
Pence admitted that growing bilateral trade and investment since the FTA went into effect deserves a "round of applause" but noted that the two countries should be "honest about where their trade relationship is."
Heo Yoon, an economist at Sogang University, said, "Revisions to FTAs are usually referred to as renegotiations. Reform doesn't mean a complete overhaul but seems to refer to partial adjustments to fit U.S. terms or to narrow the trade deficit."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to members of the American Chamber of Commerce at a hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap