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.