Scraping KORUS FTA?: Trump to Discuss Whether or Not to Discard Korea-US FTA as Early as This Week | BusinessKorea

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

US President Donald Trump, who visited Huston, Texas that suffered a big damage from the Hurricane Harvey on September 2 (local time), said that he will discuss whether or not to scratch off the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) beginning this week.
US President Donald Trump, who visited Huston, Texas that suffered a big damage from the Hurricane Harvey on September 2 (local time), said that he will discuss whether or not to scratch off the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) beginning this week.
SEOUL,KOREA
4 September 2017 - 2:00am
Michael Herh

Trump told reporters that he would discuss whether to break the Korea-US FTA this week. "It is very much on my mind," President Trump said, answering to reporters when they asked President Trump whether or not questions of if he will discuss the matter starting this week.    

President Trump's remarks virtually confirmed a report of the Washington Post (WP) that "Trump ordered his aides to withdraw from the Korea-US FTA."

"The president instructed his aides to prepare the withdrawal of the FTA with Korea," the WP quoted sources familiar with the issue as saying.

“Economic tensions can be ratcheted up between South Korea and the US facing the North Korean nuclear issue,” the WP reported.  

According to the WP, even though there is a possibility that President Trump will negotiate an amendment to the Korea-US FTA while maintaining the agreement, internally, they made much progress in the preparation and may start to withdraw from the agreement as early as this week (Korean standard time).  

But some experts say that President Trump's remarks are highly likely to be a "bluff" in order to secure an advantage in negotiations on an amendment to the Korea-US FTA.

It is said that many of Trump administration officials, including national security adviser Herbert McMaster, defense secretary James Mattis, and Gary Cohn, chief economic advisor to President Trump and director of the National Economic Council are opposed to going back on the KORUS FTA.

On the other hand, "The Korean government will respond calmly and dignifiedly" regarding foreign news that the US President Trump set directions of the debate on the abolishment of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement,” said the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) on September 3.

“The government has constantly announced its stance on the KORUS FTA negotiations for national interest and national dignity,” said an MOTIE official after hearing news about President Trump's remarks on the Korea-US FTA.

It is said that the government will respond calmly to various scenarios, including the dismantlement of the agreement without riding an emotional rollercoaster with respect to President Trump's remarks.

"With all possibilities considered, we have been preparing for the revision of the FTA,” said Kim Hyun-jong, the deputy chief negotiator for the trade negotiations after wrapping up a Joint Korea-US FTA Commission meeting on August 22. "I will negotiate with the US side in a dignified manner in the future. The term termination was not mentioned in the meeting."

On the other hand, if the US government kicks off the process of dismantling the Korea-US FTA, it should inform South Korea of ​​its intention to terminate the agreement in writing. According to the agreement (Article 24), the Korea-US FTA is terminated 180 days after a written notice of termination from either party.

If the Korean government does not raise any problems, the agreement will be automatically discarded. The Korean side may request consultation within 30 days from the date of a written notice, in this case, the two countries ought to open a negotiation within 30 days from the date of the request.

 

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