Trump encouraged by talk of ‘a level playing field’ on trade with South Korea

Trump encouraged by talk of ‘a level playing field’ on trade with South Korea

0 comments 📅07 July 2017, 05:00

South Korea is a longstanding American friend, but President Donald Trump has spoken harshly about U.S. trade imbalances and threatened to spli up the bilateral trade pact.

“We will do more to remove barriers to reciprocal commerce and market access,” Trump said, adding that the two leaders had talked round the thorny trade areas of steel and autos. Trump said he was encouraged by South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in’s assurances that he would solicit a level playing field for American workers and businesses, particularly automakers. A dump statement said the two sides had agreed to work together to reduce over purvey of basic materials such as steel and non-tariff barriers. It also said Trump had accepted an allure from Moon to visit South Korea this year.

Bonnie Glaser, chief adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said it was unwise for Trump to air the marketing issue so publicly.

“Public complaints by Trump about unfair trade and in short supply defense spending provide opportunities for China and North Korea to drive a fissure between the allies,” she said.

The U.S. goods trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since the U.S.-Korea unconfined trade pact known as KORUS took effect in 2012. The agreement was calculation to boost U.S. exports by $10 billion a year, but in 2016 they were $3 billion humble than in 2011.

At the start of Friday’s talks, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the largest component of the shortage was automotive trade and many non-tariff barriers to U.S. auto exports to South Korea remained.

“I judge the way to address it is to deal product by product with what we can do to change the export side and what we can do to trim down the bad imports side,” he said. Ross said later on Friday that some course had been made in the talks.

The current pact was agreed to despite protests by supporters of Moon, who was then in contrast. But analysts have suggested that given the need to preserve a unified face in the face of a hostile North Korea, there could be compromise on both sides to solve issues. (By David Brunnstrom and Lisa Lambert. Additional reporting by Fatima Bhojani, Roberta Rampton, Tim Ahmann, David Fortune, David Lawder and Eric Beech; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrew Hay)

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