The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Tuesday led formal consultations with South Korea after calling for the country to take actions to improve procedures in competition hearings held by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the agency said in a press release.
Shortcomings in the hearing process have denied U.S. parties certain rights, including the opportunity to review and rebut evidence against them, USTR said.
The U.S. is accusing South Korea of not complying with U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) Article 16.1.3, which states that a party in an administrative hearing related to competition must have a reasonable opportunity to review and rebut evidence and any other collected information on which the determination may be based, USTR said.
The U.S. requested formal KORUS consultations in March and has been raising, including through multiple meetings, letters and formal comments, concerns with “restrictive” KFTC hearing procedures regarding a respondent’s lack of access to evidence, including evidence used to bring allegations against it, USTR said.
The agency is seeking changes from South Korea necessary to meet the KORUS obligation while protecting business confidential information and other appropriate materials from disclosure to third parties, USTR said.