WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters on Thursday he will either renegotiate or terminate what he called a “horrible” free trade deal with South Korea and said Seoul should pay for a U.S. anti-missile system that he priced at $1 billion.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump called the five-year-old trade pact with South Korea “unacceptable” and said it would be targeted for renegotiation after his administration completes a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
He blamed the U.S.-Korean trade deal, known as KORUS, on his 2016 Democratic presidential election opponent, Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state promoted the final version of the trade pact before its approval by Congress in 2011.
“It is unacceptable, it is a horrible deal made by Hillary,” the Republican Trump said. “It’s a horrible deal, and we are going to renegotiate that deal or terminate it.”
Asked when he would announce his intention to renegotiate the deal, Trump said: “Very soon. I’m announcing it now.”
Trump’s comments stunned South Korean financial markets, sending Seoul stocks and the won currency into reverse even as the country’s economic outlook has started to brighten.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said Seoul would continue to explain to the Trump administration the benefits of the free trade deal. Washington had not officially filed a request to Seoul to renegotiate the agreement, it said.