U.S. and South Korea Continue Free Trade Talks

The two countries wrap up their seventh round of free trade discussions Wednesday.

The U.S. and South Korea are looking to gain momentum as they finish the seventh round of free trade talks in Washington on Wednesday and look ahead to the eight round.

However, if a breakthrough is imminent, U.S. officials aren't saying so. The U.S. Trade Representative office's spokesman, Steve Norton, told Meatingplace.com on Tuesday that "No one's going to come out tomorrow and announce that an agreement has been concluded, but we hope to have made enough progress to see the finish line and have a good sense of what we need to do in order to complete the agreement."

Earlier in the week, U.S. Assistant Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said she did not expect a breakthrough in this week's talks. That could have to do with trouble stemming from South Korea's rejection of U.S. beef shipments, an issue that is not technically connected to the current bilateral trade talks but one that nevertheless may be critical to the U.S. agreeing to a deal.

"I don't think everything hangs on beef, because there are about 17 negotiation groups meeting, and there are lots of issues and lots of complexities," Norton says. "I'd say beef is one of the issues on the minds of negotiators as they try to work through this. They know that beef also has to be addressed at some point separately."

According to Korean media Tuesday, the two countries reached a formal agreement not to impose tariffs on digital songs and movies, but the U.S. Trade Representative's office has not confirmed this.

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