Trump Will Discuss South Korea Trade Deal With Senior Advisers

Kristopher Drake
September 4, 2017

President Donald Trump hinted yesterday he may pull out of the country's 5-year old free trade agreement with South Korea, saying he would discuss the fate of the pact with his advisors this coming week. The administration has been in talks to make adjustments to the trade agreement with South Korea.

But Mr Trump, asked on Saturday whether he was talking with his advisers about the trade deal, said: "I am".

Trump was apparently incensed when he was briefed about a meeting by trade officials from both sides on August 22, when they failed to agree on talks to revise the pact.

On Sunday, North Korea tested what it said was a hydrogen bomb. The Washington Post reported earlier that any withdrawal was opposed by his national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

No final decision has been made and Mr Trump could remain in the agreement to see if changes are still possible, the newspaper reported, citing several people close to the process, whom it did not identify. "But we know that the USA has a strong will to revise the deal".

"The president and Nebraska have a basic disagreement about trade", Sasse said in a statement.

The idea of potentially withdrawing seems to have been prompted by the breakdown in negotiations between South Korean officials and the United States trade representative, Mr Robert Lighthizer, a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation said.

In recent days, a frustrated Mr Trump has pushed his staff to take bold action against a host of governments, including the one in Seoul, that he has accused of unfair trade practices.

The U.S. -Korea Free Trade Agreement has been a frequent target for Trump, who, in interviews with Reuters, has threatened to pull out of what he terms an unequal deal. Trump said last month that Canada and Mexico are being "difficult" and he'll probably need to scrap the pact. That's raising concerns about a move that could cause a fresh economic rift between allies at a moment of heightened tensions with a common foe, North Korea. South Korea could also decide to refuse any discussions with Mr Trump, kicking off a trade war between the two countries. The Commerce Department has been investigating whether imported steel threatens US security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

There is a trade imbalance between Alabama and South Korea.

Trump criticized the agreement a year ago on the campaign trail, calling it "a bad" deal that hurts USA industries and workers.

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