Striking the 21st Century Trade Deal: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and South Korea’s Policy Choice


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When: Apr 10 2015 - 10:00am until Apr 10 2015 - 11:30am
Where: 1819 L Street, NW, Washington, DC, Sixth Floor Conference Room

Striking the 21st Century Trade Deal: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and South Korea’s Policy Choice

An Asia Pacific Political Economy and Trade Seminar featuring:

June Park
Asia Studies Fellow, East-West Center in Washington

Scott Snyder (Discussant)
Senior Fellow, Korea Studies; and Director, Program on U.S.-Korea Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

Striking the 21st Century Trade Deal: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and South Korea’s Policy Choice from East-West Center on Vimeo.

June Park Asia Studies Fellow, East-West Center in Washington

Will South Korea join the TPP? The clock is ticking away on the political calendar for the U.S. Congress to renew the Trade Promotional Authority (TPA), and the TPP entering into force during President Obama’s time in office is doubtful. Under current circumstances, the TPP may lose political momentum, and the level of negotiations could be impacted due to lack of political will. But leaving U.S. domestic politics aside, the TPP does present a 21st century trade deal to push the global economy toward a different platform – one that stresses the importance of services and intellectual property - that could not be envisioned under the WTO framework.

For an economy like South Korea’s that depends heavily on trade, the TPP is an inevitable option that should be seriously taken into consideration. The fact that South Korea already has signed bilateral free trade agreements with the United States (KORUS FTA) and China (Korea-China FTA) makes South Korea’s joining the TPP all the more significant in shaping regional trade dynamics, but also politically difficult in juggling bilateral economic relationships with both the U.S. and China at the same time. South Korea requires a strategic think-through, appropriate policy planning, and timely action.

In her presentation, Ms. Park outline the current benefits and hurdles that both the United States and South Korea have faced thus far via teh KORUS FTA. Thus far, although South Korea does have a trade deficit with the United States, both countries are doing relatively well commercially. However, Ms. Park urged the audience to keep in mind that KORUS FTA only truly went into effect in 2012. With only 2 years of actual data, it is somewhat premature to judge just how successful this FTA will be in the future. Looking at KORUS FTA also highlighted the path that Ms. park believes South Korea should take as it continues its TPP negotiations. Rather than focusing solely on its agricultural sector, which, while important, has seen decreases in profits, she advocated for increased attention in the services sector. This would give South Korea the chance to grow its services footprint, especially tech services, and from there work towards establishing a more comprehensive intellectual property rights (IPR) protection regime. She also pointed out how the United States remains one of if not the top destination for South Korea's foreign direct investment, a trend that if continued would lead to more benefits for both sides. 

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

To access coverage of Ms. Park's recent Asia Pacific Bulletin on this subject by BNA author Len Bracken, please click here. Reproduced with permission from International Trade Daily, 70 [itd-bul] (Apr. 13, 2015). Copyright 2015 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) <>

June Park is an Asian Studies Fellow at the East West Center in Washington. For her doctoral dissertation entitled, ‘Trade Wars & Currency Conflict: China, Japan, and South Korea’s Responses to U.S. Protectionism, 1971-2013’, she has conducted two years of fieldwork in Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from Korea University in her native South Korea, and will earn her PhD in Political Science from Boston University in May 2015. Following her residency at the East-West Center, she will act as a visiting scholar at the APSA Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs. Upon earning her PhD, she will join the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore as a postdoctoral fellow.

Scott Synder is Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he had served as an adjunct fellow from 2008 to 2011. Snyder's program examines South Korea's efforts to contribute on the international stage; its potential influence and contributions as a middle power in East Asia; and the peninsular, regional, and global implications of North Korean instability. Snyder is also the co-editor of North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society (Rowman and Littlefield, October 2012), and the editor of Global Korea: South Korea's Contributions to International Security (Council on Foreign Relations, October 2012) and The U.S.-South Korea Alliance: Meeting New Security Challenges (Lynne Rienner Publishers, March 2012). He served as the project director for CFR's Independent Task Force on policy toward the Korean Peninsula. He currently writes for the blog, "Asia Unbound."

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Batiuk
Phone: 202-327-9755