The Trump administration is poised to push South Korea to buy more American cars and agricultural products amid high tensions with North Korea over its nuclear capabilities.
The US and South Korea will hold a second round of talks on Wednesday in Washington as part of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s efforts to amend Korus, the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
“You’ve got 30 days, and if you don’t get concessions then I’m pulling out,” Trump reportedly told Lighthizer in an Oval Office meeting earlier this month.
You don’t tell them [South Korea] they’ve got 30 days. You tell them, ‘This guy’s so crazy he could pull out any minute.
In August, the first special session to discuss the five-year-old pact ended in stalemate. The US called for revisions to the treaty, while the South Koreans proposed a closer analysis the agreement’s economic impact.
Trump has threatened to withdraw from Korus if the terms of the deal don’t do enough to reduce America’s growing trade deficit with the country.
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The US also could also demand that South Korea reduce agricultural tariffs, many of which are being phased out slowly over a 10- year period, David Salmonsen, senior director at the American Farm Bureau Federation, told Bloomberg.
Both leaders understand the importance, however, of cooperation given the mounting threat from North Korea.
“The two countries still need to find a way to get onto the same page,” according to Troy Stangarone, senior director of congressional affairs and trade at the Korea Economic Institute in Washington.
“Some of this will depend I think on how extensive the US wants these changes to be. If these are simple, technical changes, these can be done simply. But if they’re looking for more extensive types of changes, then that could raise other issues” and could require congressional approval, he added.
The US is South Korea’s second-largest trading partner.