Trump: I might delay South Korea trade deal
President Trump said Thursday he might hold up implementation of a revamped trade agreement with South Korea until he reaches a nuclear pact with North Korea.
“I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea,” Trump said during a speech in Ohio. “Do you know why? Because it’s a very strong card and I want to make sure everybody is treated fairly and we’re moving along very nicely with North Korea.”
Trump’s surprising comments come just one day after the White House touted the revised deal as a “major win” for the president’s tough approach on trade.
“It’s a big deal and a major win for American workers and American businesses,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday.
Seconds before issuing his threat to delay the revisions, Trump called them a “wonderful” fix that will “level the playing field on steel and cars and trucks coming into this country.”
He also denounced the existing deal as a “horror show.”
“The president, taking into account all relevant considerations—including negotiations with North Korea—will determine the best time to sign a finalized agreement on behalf of the United States,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said after the speech.
Earlier this week, the U.S. and South Korea announced they had agreed to make changes to their six-year-old free-trade deal.
South Korea agreed to double the number of cars U.S. automakers are able to export and accepted a 30 percent cut to the amount of steel it sends to the U.S.
Both countries rushed to smooth over tensions over trade ahead of Trump’s proposed meeting in May with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Foreign policy experts have said it is important for both nations to enter the talks with a united front in order to have the best chance of extracting nuclear concessions from Kim, who met this week in Beijing with his closest international partner, Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But some U.S. officials are concerned that South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is also expected to meet with Kim, might be too eager to reach a deal with the North, which could result in a weak agreement.
Updated at 6:22 p.m.
More Administration News
See all Hill.TV See all Video