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Trump threatens to terminate trade pact with S. Korea

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Donald Trump

Washington, April 28 : President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the US trade agreement with South Korea, declaring that the five-year-old accord with a key ally was “a horrible deal” that has left America “destroyed”.

Trump said on Thursday that he is looking to disrupt an important partnership in the tumultuous Asia-Pacific region as well, even with Seoul on edge because of Pyongyang’s escalating military provocations, the Washington Post reported.

He sharply criticised the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as Korus, the latest version of which was ratified in 2011.

“It’s a horrible deal. It was a Hillary Clinton disaster, a deal that should’ve never been made,” Trump said, referring to the then Secretary of State who became the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

“It’s a one-way street”.

South Korea is the US’ sixth-largest goods trade partner, and the US goods trade deficit with Korea was $27.7 billion last year, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the daily reported.

Next week marks an anniversary for Korus and triggers a review period to potentially renegotiate or ratify a new version of the agreement.

“We’ve told them that we’ll either terminate or negotiate,” Trump said. “We may terminate.”

The President said that the process of termination of Korus is simpler than with the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

“With Nafta, we terminate tomorrow; if we did, it ends in six months,” he said. “With the ­Korean deal, we terminate and it’s over.”

Trump added: “I will do that unless we make a fair deal. We’re getting destroyed in Korea.”

On his trip to Asia last week, Vice-President Mike Pence had said that the US was looking to “reform” the Korus agreement because US businesses “face too many barriers to entry, which tilts the playing field against American workers and American growth”.

Trump’s threat to South Korea comes after he withdrew the US from the ­Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. The Trump administration is also pushing to renegotiate the trade relationship with Japan, another important ally.

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US, Russia diplomats discuss Helsinki meeting, ties

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Washington, July 23 (IANS) The US Department of State has said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss Helsinki meeting fruits and issues over bilateral and regional concerns.

According to a statement issued by State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Sunday, the phone conversation took place on Saturday when the two foreign ministers discussed a broad range of issues, “some of which were following up from the meeting between President Trump and President Putin” in Finland on July 16, Xinhua reported.

Among the topics discussed was the situation in Syria.

The two also discussed how to implement ideas on counterterrorism process coordination and the mutual goal of establishing business-to-business dialogue between private, non-governmentally controlled entities in the two countries, another deliverable of the Trump-Putin meeting.

Pompeo and Lavrov also discussed “the need for Russia to provide equal diplomatic access to the US, at a level that is fair and reciprocal”.

US White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Thursday that Putin will be invited to Washington in the autumn, and “those discussions are already underway”.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Friday in response that that his country is open to a new meeting between the two presidents.

Trump has been widely attacked after his meeting with Putin on July 16, due to his reconciliatory remarks that many saw as a sign to side with Moscow against US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 US elections.

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Philippines Rains: Over 700,000 affected, 5 dead

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Manila, July 22 : At least five people have died and more than 700,000 have been affected due to days of torrential rains that have lashed the Philippines and have caused dams and waterways in Northern and Central Luzon, as well as Metro Manila to overflow.

 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it had received reports that a resident of Luisa Pelew died in a landslide while a resident of Negros Oriental Angelito Jipulan drowned, reports Xinhua news agency.

Police have also reported at least three more deaths, including a Negros Occidental resident who reportedly drowned, and two children from Antique province whose house was buried by a landslide.

The NDRRMC said the affected population of 158,509 families or 728,003 persons were from 585 villages in the National Capital Region (NCR) and several provinces in the Philippine.

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Exempt S. Korean vehicles from new tariffs: Seoul to Washington

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Seoul, July 22 :South Korea has asked the US to exempt its vehicles from the new 25 per cent tariffs Washington is planning to impose on imported vehicles and spare parts, officials said on Sunday.

South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon made the request to his US counterpart Steve Mnuchin in a meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Efe news agency reported.

According to an official statement by the finance ministry, Kim asked Mnuchin that South Korean vehicles be excluded from the new tariffs the White House is planning to impose on national security grounds.

The South Korean official reminded his US colleague of the positive impact the Asian country’s automobile industry has had on employment and investments in the US.

Currently, South Korean vehicles entering the US market are not subject to import tariffs under the free trade agreement signed by both countries in 2012.(IANS)

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