Just because the Trump administration is talking tough on North Korea, threatening a “major conflict” if Pyongyang doesn’t give up its nuclear program, that doesn’t mean that President Donald Trump is ready to embrace South Korea, either. In fact, it seems the president sees a potential military crisis as the perfect time to lean on its ally, too, threatening to to pull out of a five-year-old free trade deal that he characterized as “horrible” and blamed, unsurprisingly, on Hillary Clinton.
“It is unacceptable, it is a horrible deal made by Hillary,” Trump told Reuters on Thursday of the U.S.-South Korean trade deal, or KORUS, which was approved by Congress in 2011 during Clinton’s secretary of state tenure. “It’s a horrible deal, and we are going to re-negotiate that deal or terminate it.”
As with his attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump has taken a hard line on bilateral agreements that result in U.S. trade deficits. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, here was a total of $112.2 billion worth of commerce exchanged between the U.S. and South Korea in 2016, The New York Times reports. And while South Korea has a $10.7 billion trade deficit in services with the United States, it enjoys a $27.7 billion trade surplus in goods under the deal. A spokesperson for South Korea’s foreign ministry told Reuters that Seoul would continue its “efforts to explain to the United States the mutually reciprocal outcome” of the agreement, but would also prepare for “countermeasures.”
But Trump’s attempt to strong-arm South Korea isn’t limited to the…
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