Lawmakers to Trump: Don’t withdraw from South Korea trade post
By DOUG PALMER
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and a bipartisan group of senior members of Congress urged President Donald Trump Tuesday not to follow through on his threat to withdraw from a free trade agreement with South Korea, even though there have been some problems with the five-year-old pact.
“North Korea’s latest nuclear test underscores yet again the vital importance of the strong alliance between the United States and South Korea,” Brady and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said in a joint statement with Rep. Richard Neal and Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrats on the two panels.
“The U.S.-South Korea agreement (KORUS), negotiated under two presidents and approved by Congress, is a central element of that alliance,” the lawmakers said.
Over the weekend, Trump and other administration officials confirmed that they were weighing whether to withdraw from the agreement, which was negotiated during the Republican administration of President George W. Bush and approved with strong bipartisan support during the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama. Business and agricultural groups mobilized their members to support KORUS.
Brady and the other lawmakers acknowledged some U.S. industries were frustrated with South Korea’s implementation of the agreement and its compliance with terms of the pact. Rather than ending it altogether, the lawmakers said the U.S. should engage in bilateral discussions to strengthen the economic relationship.
“To be effective and constructive, however, we must not withdraw from the agreement while we do so,” they said.
They urged the administration to keep Congress, the business sector and workers closely informed of any plans to change the agreement.