SKorea to ‘wait and see’ on Trump threat
South Korea is adopting a “wait and see” stance after US President Donald Trump pledged to either renegotiate or terminate a “horrible” free trade deal between the two countries.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump labelled the five-year-old trade pact “unacceptable” and said it would be targeted for renegotiation after his administration completes a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
He blamed the US-Korean trade deal, KORUS, on presidential election opponent Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state promoted the final version of the trade pact before its approval by Congress in 2011.
“Talk and actual policy are different,” an anonymous high-ranking finance ministry official said.
“They have not requested anything from us so we’ll have to wait and see.”
The spokesman reiterated comments by Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho the previous day that South Korea had not yet received any official requests on the renegotiation of the pact, which took effect in 2012.
South Korea’s automobile industry body expressed concern over the possible revision of the trade deal.
Shares of Hyundai Motor extended losses, and were down as much as 2.4 per cent after Trump’s comments.
Trump also questioned why the US was paying for the $U1 billion Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile system deployed in South Korea to defend against a potential missile attack from North Korea.
A former US State Department official estimated the cost of the system at about $1.2 billion but said the United States would not want to sell THAAD to Seoul.