South Korea’s trade minister said Thursday that the government is preparing for every possible scenario, including the renegotiation of a free trade deal with the United States.
“Seoul is studying every aspect of the pact and getting ready to deal with each case, including the renegotiation of the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement,” Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan said in a meeting with experts and researchers from state-run think tanks and private institutions. “We will keep close tabs on the movements of the U.S. government in regards to handling the matter.”
Joo’s comments came as U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview last week that he will fix or scrap the FTA between the two countries, calling it “horrible.”
It is the first time that the U.S. leader directly mentioned his plan to terminate the open trade pact although he has constantly opposed such free trade pacts including the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The Seoul government recently set up a task force team to review the trade issue and map out appropriate measures against Washington’s latest anti-dumping duties imposed on South Korean steel products.
The Korea-U.S. FTA has been under fire for causing a trade deficit of US$28 billion between the two countries last year.
Earlier, Washington released a trade report about the positives of the Korea-U.S. agreement that went into effect in March 2012 and did not put South Korea on the list of currency manipulators. Such a move was interpreted as a sign the Trump administration will place policy priority on dealing with rising geopolitical tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, instead of trade issues that can weaken ties with various partners.