First feedback from a day-long session on updating the US-Korea free trade agreement suggests there is still "much work to do to reach an agreement that serves the economic interests of the American people."

In a statement following the talks that took place on Friday (5 January), US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer added: "Our goals are clear: we must achieve fair and reciprocal trade between our two nations. We will move forward as expeditiously as possible to achieve this goal."

According to a statement, both sides "engaged on their priority areas of interest." The United States discussed proposals to move towards fair and reciprocal trade in key industrial goods sectors, such as autos and auto parts, as well as to resolve additional cross-cutting and sector-specific barriers impacting US exports.

Media reports suggest key topics of discussion for Korea are goods and services, investment protection, and US import restrictions such as safeguard measures and antidumping duties.

Both sides agreed to follow-up to discuss timing for the next meeting in the very near term – although there are as yet no further dates scheduled for discussions.

The United States last July initiated talks on "possible amendments and modifications" of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), with meetings on the issue held in August in Seoul and in October at the offices of the US Trade Representative.

The latest meeting was the first held between both sides since the completion of related domestic procedures in Korea in late December 2017.

Textiles and apparel from South Korea represent a small and decreasing portion of US imports. While KORUS offers qualifying South Korean textiles and apparel, travel goods and footwear duty-free access to the US market, the value of US apparel imports from South Korea in 2016 totalled just US$251m – accounting for less than 1% of total US apparel imports.