* Autos, beef sticking points on FTA talks
* Obama gets to Korea on Nov. 10
(Adds quotes, background)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON, Nov 1 Negotiators will put "maximum
effort" toward resolving objections in the U.S. Congress to a
U.S.-South Korean free-trade agreement by the time President
Barack Obama goes to Seoul on Nov. 10, an administration
official said on Monday.
The United States and South Korea are trying to resolve
beef and auto concerns blocking U.S. congressional approval of
the trade pact by Nov. 10. Obama meets with President Lee
Myung-bak in Seoul on Nov. 11.
The trade deal was signed in June 2007 but has languished
in the face of opposition in Congress. Obama pledged at the
last G20 meeting, in Toronto in June, to push to remove
obstacles to the deal by this month's trip.
"The president has long said we want to try and address the
outstanding issues regarding the FTA in order to bring it
forward for approval," Mike Froman, deputy national security
advisor for international economic affairs, said. "Those
outstanding issues fall largely in the area of autos and beef.
"Those discussions are under way. I can't predict at this
point how they will proceed but we're going to put every effort
into achieving ... an acceptable agreement, a satisfactory
agreement, by the time the president comes to Seoul," he told a
news conference in advance of Obama's departure for Asia on
The pact has been stalled in the U.S. Congress by many U.S.
lawmakers from Midwestern auto states who say it does not do
enough to tear down non-tariff barriers that they blame for low
U.S. autos sales in the South Korean market.
Other farm state lawmakers want Seoul to completely open
its market to U.S. beef by accepting beef from all ages of
cattle, not just those under 30 months.
Obama's 10-day trip will take him to India, Indonesia,
South Korea and Japan. It will include a G20 summit in Seoul
and an Asia-Pacific leaders summit in Japan.
Froman declined to discuss specifics when asked whether
Washington had a target in mind for U.S. auto sales to South
Korea or whether U.S. negotiators had proposed that Seoul allow
imports of autos that meet U.S. safety and emissions
"We've had a series of discussions about a range of issues
in the auto sector," he said. "Those discussions will continue
over the next week and a half or so in the run-up to the
"We're going to put maximum effort into trying to resolve
the outstanding issues by the time of the president's trip," he
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Doug Palmer; Editing
by Bill Trott