Published: Mon, September 04, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Trump bad-mouths South Korean trade deal as Pyongyang goes nuclear

Trump bad-mouths South Korean trade deal as Pyongyang goes nuclear

An American business lobbying group says President Donald Trump is considering triggering a withdrawal from a free trade agreement with South Korea. When asked to confirm media reports that he has asked advisers to pull out of the FTA, Trump said "I am.It's very much on my mind", during a visit to hurricane-devastated Houston on Saturday.

Terminating the trade agreement could put a chill on relations with a key ally in the region, though Trump campaigned on ending free trade deals he said cost U.S.jobs and put US businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn are among the advisers to Trump who are against withdrawing the US from KORUS, the Washington Post reported.

The US Chamber of Commerce said in an email to members that it and other business groups "have received multiple reports" that the Trump administration is prepared to notify South Korea of its intent to withdraw from KORUS tomorrow, and possibly sooner. Leaving the bilateral trade agreement, which was signed in 2007 and implemented in 2012, could lead to large tariffs on those goods, increasing the cost to USA consumers.

Trump has blamed the accord on his 2016 Democratic presidential election opponent, Hillary Clinton, who as Obama's secretary of state promoted the final version of the agreement before its approval by the U.S. Congress in 2011.

Chamber officials, in their memo to members, said they "and others in the USA 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".

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The move would have a negative impact on the nation's agriculture industry, according to the Nebraska Republican, who has long had a strained relationship with the president.

A statement by Mr. Lighthizer's office after the talks said the USA still has concerns about KORUS. She tells Alabama News Network: "the free trade act is really important for Hyundai"...and disbanding it completely "would damage Hyundai competitiveness in the U.S". The dialogue comes amid rising tensions with North Korea over Pyongyang's missile tests. "We want something that's going to be good for the American worker".

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 U.S. Manufacturers Association also advised quick action among government officials, lawmakers and governors to prevent the breakdown in the deal. "President Trump is committed to substantial improvements in the Korean agreement that address the trade imbalance and ensure that the deal is fully implemented".

Lighthizer himself is deeply involved in the NAFTA talks and will be in Mexico on Monday and Tuesday for a meeting with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at the end of the second round.

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