After Joe Biden‘s administration takes office, the U.S. and South Korea may see a turning point in their negotiations on sharing the cost of U.S. troops in South Korea, with the focus on whether South Korea will maintain its original proposal to increase its share of the burden. Officials on both sides have said they are committed to finalizing a new five-year military cost-sharing agreement, but have not disclosed specific details.
According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea spend about $2 billion (about 55.6 billion Taiwan dollars), and South Korea currently covers nearly half of those costs; the new round of negotiations will require a new five-year Special Measures Agreement (SMA), which governs how the two sides share military costs. SMA), which regulates how the two sides share the military costs of U.S. troops in South Korea.
According to sources familiar with the situation, during the Trump era, South Korea proposed to pay 13% more of the military costs of the U.S. forces in Korea in the first year of the SMA, and the share of the burden will continue to increase in the following four years, and in the fifth year, the military costs borne by South Korea will reach $1.3 billion (about 36.1 billion Taiwan dollars); the Trump Administration demanded that South Korea pay more military costs, which led to the breakdown of the negotiations at that Time. The Trump administration demanded that South Korea pay more, leading to a breakdown in negotiations. The current negotiation depends on whether South Korea will maintain its original proposal after the Biden Administration takes office, or whether it will ask for a reduced share based on the impact of the Wuhan pneumonia (COVID-19) Epidemic on the South Korean economy.
South Korea’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said last week that he expects South Korea and the United States to finalize an agreement soon on the sharing of military costs for U.S. troops in South Korea, but did not disclose specific details. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. and South Korea are committed to negotiating a new “special measures agreement,” but did not disclose the progress of the negotiations or their differences.
The U.S. and South Korea have been unable to reach an agreement on the sharing of military costs for U.S. troops in South Korea, which will also mark a turning point; earlier this month, the U.S. and Japan agreed to extend the validity of the agreement on sharing military costs for U.S. troops in Japan by one year; in addition, the Pentagon has also frozen plans to reduce U.S. troops in Germany. The Wall Street Journal analyzed these phenomena as a sign that the Biden administration wants to put aside the problems it had with its allies during the Trump administration and re-enforce its ties with important allies.