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US tells South Korea it plans to start talks to amend trade pact

Key Points
  • The U.S. has told South Korea that it plans to start renegotiating its trade agreeement
  • U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the joint committee will convene in Washington next month
  • President Donald Trump has pledged to renegotiate or end what he called a "horrible" deal
President Donald Trump (R) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in deliver a joint statement from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2017.
Carlos Barria | Reuters

The United States notified South Korea on Wednesday it plans to start negotiating amendments to a five-year-old free trade agreement with Seoul and called a meeting to kick off the talks for next month.

The announcement came months after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would either renegotiate or terminate what he called a "horrible" trade deal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, acting on Trump's instructions, said the joint committee under the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS) would meet in Washington next month. No date has been set.

"Since KORUS went into effect, our trade deficit in goods with Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, while U.S. goods exports have actually gone down," Lighthizer said in a statement.

"This is quite different from what the previous Administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this Agreement. We can and must do better," he said.

Trump, in an interview with Reuters in April, blamed the trade deal on his 2016 Democratic presidential election opponent, Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state promoted the final version of the agreement before its approval by Congress in 2011.

"It's a horrible deal, and we are going to renegotiate that deal or terminate it," Trump said in the interview.

KORUS was initially negotiated by the Republican administration of President George W. Bush in 2007, but that version was scrapped and renegotiated by President Barack Obama's Democratic administration three years later.

This story is developing. Please check back for further updates.