United States could withdraw from South Korea trade deal

Posted September 04, 2017

Ben Sasse of Nebraska slammed President Donald Trump's views on trade policy Saturday, following reports the administration is planning to withdraw the United States from its free trade agreement with South Korea. -South Korea free-trade agreement with his advisers following a newspaper report that he's considering terminating the pact.

Chamber officials, in their memo to members, said they "and others in the US business and agriculture community have received multiple reports that the administration is prepared to send a letter to the South Korean government on Tuesday, September 5 - or possibly sooner - indicating its intent to withdraw from the bilateral trade agreement".

For their part, Chamber officials are warning of possible job loses in the agriculture and manufacturing sector if Trump were to withdraw from the pact, as well to damage to the USA reputation when it is trying to rally support in the region to rein in North Korea's nuclear program.

Mr. Trump told reporters Saturday that he and his advisers are considering withdrawing from KORUS imminently. No final decision has been made and 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 didn't identify. "But we know that the USA has a strong will to revise the deal". That seems to confirm an earlier report by the Washington Post, but USA media also said White House officials are trying to dissuade Trump from scrapping the deal.

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Now Trump seems to have his eyes on another target, on the other side of the demilitarized zone - the Korea-U.S.

The possibility of abandoning the agreement has alarmed economists and some members of the President's party who fear that such a move would force South Korea to block United States manufacturers and farmers from a lucrative market. Korean trade officials maintained that Washington was seeking "modifications" in the terms instead of outright renegotiations.

Trump's push to revise the deal is part of his broader drive to tackle unfair trading practices and cut the trade deficit.

He pulled the USA out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement during his first week in office and his administration is now in talks to rewrite the 23-year-old North American FTA. If true, the move would deal a big blow to the relations between the allies, stoking economic tension at a time of escalated threats from North Korea.

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The National Association of Manufacturers also sent out an e-mail to its members to weigh in on the issue with "senior administration officials" as well as members of congress and governors, citing that a notice of intent to withdraw from the trade deal has been drafted.

"We believe he does not intend to terminate the deal right now", said Cho Sung-hwan, a manager at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"

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