Trump prepares to discuss withdrawal from KORUS : WP

Trump says he will discuss South Korea trade deal with senior advisers

Trump says he will discuss South Korea trade deal with senior advisers

The President's top economic advisers are deeply divided over a possible withdrawal from the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, as negotiators from both countries struggle to rewrite the five-year-old deal. Trump acknowledges that he's discussing the future of the agreement with advisers but isn't saying much more than that. That seems to confirm an earlier report by the Washington Post, but US media also said White House officials are trying to dissuade Trump from scrapping the deal.

It remains to be seen if North Korea's latest nuclear test yesterday would change the President's calculus, given the importance of Seoul as Washington's partner in dealing with Pyongyang. The administration has been in talks to make adjustments to the trade agreement with South Korea.

South Korean and USA officials began talks about possible revisions to the agreement on August 22 but failed to agree on how to move forward.

No announcement is expected on the U.S.

Now Trump seems to have his eyes on another target, on the other side of the demilitarized zone - the Korea-U.S.

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The possibility of abandoning the agreement has alarmed economists and some members of the President's party who fear that such a move would force South Korea to block USA manufacturers and farmers from a lucrative market. South Korean trade officials couldn't be reached by phone for comment Sunday.

In recent days, a frustrated Mr Trump has pushed his staff to take bold action against a host of governments, including the one in Seoul, that he has accused of unfair trade practices. Trump said last month that Canada and Mexico are being "difficult" and he'll probably need to scrap the pact. If true, the move would deal a big blow to the relations between the allies, stoking economic tension at a time of escalated threats from North Korea. On Friday, Trump spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-In about working together to address North Korea's "destabilizing and escalatory behavior" and to strengthen their defense alliance, according to a readout of the call between the two leaders. The Commerce Department has been investigating whether imported steel threatens USA security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

Trump criticized the agreement past year on the campaign trail, calling it "a bad" deal that hurts US industries and workers.

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 USA from KORUS, the Washington Post reported.

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