After a brief period of calm in the early 1990s, the United States and Korea are about to enter a new round of trade conflict. Given the importance of bilateral trade to each other's economy and the need for sustained cooperation in the face of North Korea's nuclear program, the United States and Korea must resolve emerging trade disputes over U.S. access to Korean auto, telecommunications, and food markets.
In dealing with Korean trade barriers, however, the United States should avoid a confrontational approach. Under his "globalization" initiative, President Kim Young Sam has placed a priority on deregulation and economic liberalization. Even without U.S. pressure, then, Korea will open its markets for its own good. If the current reforms in Korea do stall, the United States should consider offering a free trade agreement to Korea unilaterally and waiting for Korea to decide. This will give the people of Korea a chance to choose what kind of economy they want to have.