pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

PacNet #54 – Heart but No Seoul: Obama Will Leave Korea without KORUS

The Obama administration deserves highest marks for reinvigorating the US focus on Asia. Trips by the president and the secretary of state have been well prepared and executed, elevating ties with old friends, transforming relationships into partnerships, and in general leading with substantive agendas and with heart. But leaving Seoul without agreement on the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) is not the right signal to send to an Asia that considers US determination to pass the FTA as the acid test for whether the United States can return to a leadership position on trade. Not only that, a strong trade policy is considered vital to a truly engaged U.S. foreign policy in Asia.