March 9, 2006
After much anticipation, the United States and the Republic of Korea announced on Feb. 4 the commencement of preliminary negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). This announcement was heralded on both sides of the Pacific as a milestone in elevating the relationship between the two allies to a new level. An FTA with South Korea would undoubtedly advance U.S. economic interests by expanding trade and investment opportunities in South Korea, the world’s 11th largest economy, and contribute to the U.S. global trade agenda. It would also greatly enhance U.S. strategic objectives in Northeast Asia by counterbalancing China’s growing economic influence in the region and by providing comprehensive support to the U.S.-ROK alliance.