1. The Republic of Korea and the United States wrapped up consultations to conclude the 10th Special Measures Agreement (SMA), and the head delegates of the two sides initialed a draft SMA text on February 10, 2019.
※ Head delegates: (ROK) Chang Won-sam, Ambassador for the Special Measures Agreement Consultation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), (US) Timothy Betts, Chief Negotiator for Defense Agreement (Department of State)
The 9th SMA (2014-2018) expired on December 31, 2018.
2. As two close allies, the ROK and the U.S. reached an agreement on text of the SMA and Implementation Arrangement under a spirit of mutual respect and trust, following close consultations and coordination through ten formal meetings and various diplomatic channels. In the process, two sides put utmost efforts to come up with mutually satisfactory, win-win, results.
o Two sides agreed on the total amount of 1.0389 trillion won for the year 2019, and a one-year effective duration.
3. In the course of consultations, the ROK and the U.S. reaffirmed the importance of robust ROK-US alliance and the need for a stable stationing of U.S. troops in Korea amid the rapidly changing political landscape of the Korean Peninsula.
o Especially, the U.S. reassured its firm commitment to the defense of the ROK while making it clear that the U.S. is not considering making any changes to the size of USFK.
4. The ROK Government spared no effort to determine total amount of contributions for defense cost-sharing at a reasonable level which the National Assembly as well as Korean people could agree to and two sides could accept, while providing a stable stationing conditions for USFK and contributing to strengthening the ROK-US alliance.
o Although the U.S. spoke highly of the ROK’s contribution for the alliance, it demanded the ROK to significantly increase the total amount of contributions corresponding to the ROK’s national status and economic power. However, the ROK Government agreed on an 8.2 percent increase, the same level as its defense budget increase for 2019, comprehensively taking into account USFK’s contribution for the defense of the Korean Peninsula, the ROK’s financial capability, and the security circumstances of the Korean Peninsula
※ First year increase rate of each agreement: 2nd SMA (1994): 18.2%, 3rd SMA (1996): 10%, 4th SMA (1999): 8.0%, 5th SMA (2002): 25.7%, 6th SMA (2005): -8.9%, 7th SMA (2007): 6.6%, 8th SMA (2009): 2.5%, 9th SMA (2014): 5.8%.
o Furthermore, given that the purpose and the intent of the SMA are to offset the stationing cost of USFK, the ROK Government requested the U.S. withdraw its demand for a new cost-sharing category on operational support.
o Although two sides agreed on effective duration at one year, the ROK and the U.S. made it possible to extend the Agreement if two sides agree in preparation of possible lapse between agreements unless the next SMA is concluded at an opportune time.
5. The ROK Government brought about meaningful system improvement measures to resolve issues that have emerged during the execution of the SMA and to enhance transparency and accountability in implementation.
o Taking out exceptional cash use for construction and making it possible to reduce proportion of cash contribution for design and oversight based on execution results, the in-kind system in the ROK Funded-Construction (ROKFC) program was strengthened.
o Having limitations on automatic carry-over of unexecuted Logistics Cost Sharing(LCS) contributions and strengthening the ROK’s authority in project selection as well as execution in both ROKFC and LCS, the ROK Government enhanced transparency and accountability in execution of the SMA contributions.
o The ROK
Government exerted efforts to protect rights and benefits of Korean National
workforce of USFK including removing upper limit in using SMA contributions for
labor costs of USFK Korean National employees and adding a provision on
protection of the rights and interests of Korean National employees in the SMA.
o Establishing a Joint Working Group on the SMA System Improvement, a standing consultative mechanism, two sides agreed to have continuous consultation on measures to further improve the current SMA system in the mid- to long-term.
6. Unlike in the past, the ROK and the U.S. comprehensively reviewed and agreed on the text of not only the SMA, but also the Implementation Arrangement, which contains details on implementation. The ROK Government plans to submit both the SMA and the Implementation Arrangement to the National Assembly in order to ensure better transparency towards the National Assembly and the Korean people.
7. In order to minimize a lapse between agreements, the ROK and the U.S. agreed to put best efforts to complete their respective domestic procedures necessary for the entry into force of the SMA as early as possible.
* unofficial translation