Donald Trump

Donald Trump announces he may ‘hold up’ US trade pact with South Korea until after North Korea talks

Trump said he may hold up the agreement “because it’s a very strong card and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly”

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2018, 2:53am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2018, 3:01am

US President Donald Trump is threatening to “hold up” the trade agreement his administration just finalized with South Korea to provide more leverage for talks with North Korea.

Speaking in Ohio, Trump highlighted the renegotiation of the Korea-US free trade agreement. He added: “I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea.”

Trump said the “rhetoric has calmed down” with North Korea, as the two countries have announced plans to meet next month in advance of a possible meeting between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump said he may hold up the agreement “because it’s a very strong card and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly”.

The renegotiation is set to be the first trade agreement concluded by the current administration.

Trump made the remarks at a union training site in Richfield, Ohio, where he pushed his infrastructure plan in what was his first public appearance in nearly a week.

US agrees not to put tariffs on South Korea ahead of North Korea talks

Trump called on Congress to fund his proposal for US$200 billion in spending, in hopes of triggering $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment.

He said: “We will transform our roads and bridges from a source of endless frustration into a source of incredible pride.”

Under the agreed-upon trade deal, which was finalised this week, South Korea agreed to limit its steel exports to the US and made concessions on auto imports. 

In return, the US agreed to exempt South Korea from the 25 per cent tariff on steel that Trump announced this month. 

The deal removes a major economic irritant as the allies prepare for high-stakes meetings on North Korea. 

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are planning separate meetings with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks. 

North and South Korean lawmakers share a toast to peace

Relations between the US and South Korea have been strained at several points in the last year as Trump has railed against an US$18 billion trade deficit and denounced the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as Korus. 

Trump has called the Obama-originated agreement “horrible” and said that it “destroyed” US industry.