Administration

Trump considering withdrawal from South Korea trade deal

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President Trump confirmed Saturday that he was talking with advisers amid reports that he had instructed aides to prepare to withdraw the U.S. from its free trade agreement with South Korea.

“I am. It’s very much on my mind,” Trump told a reporter covering his day trip to Texas and Louisiana when asked if he was talking to advisers and would do something in the coming week.

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The Trump administration is considering beginning the formal withdrawal process as early as Tuesday, according to Inside U.S. Trade, which first reported the plans.

Such a move could stoke tensions between the U.S. and South Korea, a key ally in the region, at a time when the two countries are coordinating efforts to confront North Korea over its missile program.

A White House spokesperson had told The Washington Post that “discussions are ongoing but we have no announcements at this time.”

The move would likely be aimed at benefitting domestic industries, though could force South Korea to respond by slapping tariffs on its goods imported by the U.S. 

At least one Republican senator on Saturday criticized the proposed action, citing a “basic disagreement” with the administration on trade.

“[Trump’s] Administration holds 18th-century views of trade as a zero-sum game. I side with our farmers and ranchers who are feeding the world now,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement.

Key White House officials are urging Trump not to scrap the deal, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, sources told the Post.

The plan is the latest move by Trump to deliver on his campaign promises to tear up trade deals that he has argued put U.S. workers at a disadvantage. 

Updated: 7:49 p.m.

Tags Ben Sasse South Korea

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