Trump weighing termination of South Korea free trade deal

Trevor Jackson
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. Trump was speaking during a visit to Houston, Texas on Saturday to watch over relief efforts after hurricane Harvey, where he was asked by reporters if he was preparing to scrap the Korea-U.S. FTA. Trump may be reviving his "America First" slogan that won him the presidential title by threatening to do away with free trade deals he claims have damaged USA trade and jobs. 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.

As Trump considers giving notice to South Korea of USA withdrawal from the pact, he faces a potential divide among his advisers. While $500-Million in Alabama goods go to South Korea each year, nearly $2-Billion in South Korea good are shopped here, much of it involving the Hyundai plant in Montgomery.

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. That meeting was arranged after Trump met with South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, in late June.

Since the Washington Post's report there have been growing concerns from the US trade community.

Alabama exports millions of dollars in goods to, and imports millions worth of good from, South Korea...primarily because the only Hyundai plant in the U.S.is in Montgomery.

The same issue was addressed during a rally Trump held in Arizona where he said, "I don't think we can make a deal [on NAFTA] because we have been so badly taken advantage of".

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But it remains unclear whether the administration would actually withdraw from the deal, and industry representatives who have lobbied the White House say the President's team has done little of the work - like a wide consultation with affected industries - needed before taking such a step.

"One of the big reasons we chose to go forward with the agreement was to demonstrate to the South Koreans, North Koreans and Chinese that the U.S. was committed to this relationship for the long haul", Mr Green said.

After North Korea claimed Sunday that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb capable of fitting onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, Mr. Trump also warned that South Korea's overall approach to Pyongyang isn't working.

The U.S. Manufacturers Association also advised quick action among government officials, lawmakers and governors to prevent the breakdown in the deal.

"Unfortunately, too many American workers have not benefited from the agreement", Mr. Lighthizer said.

He added that particularly because of Mexico he might have to end up terminating the deal.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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