Trump says revised Korea trade deal may be signed in ‘couple of weeks’

September 5, 2018

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a revised trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea may be signed “in a couple of weeks.”

Speaking at the White House, Trump indicated the signing could take place when he meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month.

“It may be signed during the United Nations conference in a couple of weeks,” he said. “The deal is done. It’s been done with South Korea for a long time. It’s been done for about two months, and we’ll do a ceremonial signing over the next very short period of time.”

This AP file photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)

This AP file photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)

Negotiations to amend the free trade agreement, known as KORUS, began last year after Trump blamed it for taking away American jobs and widening the U.S. trade deficit with Asia’s fourth largest economy.

A revision was announced in March, but the two sides have yet to sign the new agreement amid uncertainty over the Trump administration’s move to impose tariffs on imported cars, including those from South Korea.

“It was actually a very reasonable deal and a fairly easy deal to make,” Trump said.

Taking a swipe at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the self-proclaimed ultimate deal maker added: “It was a horrible deal to start off with for the United States. It was made by somebody that I happened to be running against at the time. And she made a deal that took a lot of jobs out of the United States, and we’re making a deal that’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the United States.”

Trump was addressing bombshell allegations in an upcoming book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward. Based on in-depth interviews with anonymous administration officials, the book claims Trump’s then-top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, removed a document from the president’s desk to stop him from signing off on terminating KORUS.

Trump said “that was another thing in the book that was just totally false.”

During the renegotiation, South Korea agreed to further open its auto market to the U.S. in exchange for an exemption from the Trump administration’s new 25 percent tariff on imported steel.

Still, the Asian ally faces an annual import quota of 2.68 million tons, or 70 percent of the average of steel exports to the U.S. over the last three years.