President Donald Trump will discuss the U.S.-South Korea free-trade deal with his advisers next week, he said Saturday, a day after he spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in about a potential arms sale.
“It is very much on my mind,” Trump said in Houston, where he was visiting some of the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
However, government sources have told The Washington Post that the president has instructed advisers to prepare to withdraw from the free-trade pact known as KORUS.
Those sources told the Post that the formal process of withdrawing from the trade agreement could begin this coming week.
At the White House a spokeswoman said, “Discussions are ongoing, but we have no announcements at this time.”
The Trump administration has been making moves to withdraw from several trade agreements the president says are not good for American workers.
Trump has reportedly been frustrated by efforts to renegotiate the deal, which was signed in 2007 and put into effect in 2012. He has complained about an increasing trade deficit with South Korea.
In July, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that since 2012, the trade deficit in goods with South Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, while exports of U.S. goods to South Korea have gone down.
But withdrawal from the agreement, experts say, could lead to large tariff increases on imported South Korean goods in the United States, as well as high tariffs for imported U.S. goods in South Korea.
And White House advisers cautioning against the withdrawal say the move could isolate Seoul at a time when North Korea is increasing its military aspirations.