US seeks defense procurement pact with South Korea - M5 Dergi
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US seeks defense procurement pact with South Korea

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The U.S. Department of Defense has initiated steps to engage industry stakeholders in soliciting feedback on its pursuit of a defense procurement agreement with South Korea. This move comes against the backdrop of mounting security uncertainties stemming from North Korean threats and Russian aggression in Ukraine.

In a recent announcement, the department issued a notice in the Federal Register, inviting public comments on the potential establishment of a new Reciprocal Defense Procurement (RDP) Agreement with South Korea, with the comment period extending until March 25.

The pursuit of this agreement aligns with the commitment made by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden during their summit in April last year, emphasizing the need to bolster partnerships in defense-sector supply chains.

According to the department, the primary objective of an RDP Agreement is to foster rationalization, standardization, interchangeability, and interoperability of conventional defense equipment among allies and other friendly governments. Such agreements serve as a framework for ongoing discussions on market access and procurement issues, facilitating more effective defense cooperation.

The Pentagon has already established RDP agreements with 28 countries, underscoring their significance in enhancing defense ties and streamlining defense procurement processes.

Often likened to a defense-sector free trade agreement, the RDP agreement aims to mitigate trade barriers and enhance bilateral exchanges in defense-related goods and services.

Representative Michelle Park Steel (R-CA), a lawmaker of Korean descent, recently expressed her support for advancing reciprocal defense procurement between the U.S. and South Korea. In a social media post, she highlighted the importance of strengthening defense capabilities in the face of escalating threats from the Chinese Communist Party and North Korea.

In November, Seoul and Washington formalized the Security of Supply Arrangement, enabling both countries to prioritize the delivery of defense-related goods upon request. This agreement further underscores the commitment of both nations to bolstering their defense partnership amidst evolving security dynamics in the region.

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