By Ana Swanson
President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in enter the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Trump had nice things to tweet Friday morning about his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In. Hours later, standing just a few feet from the foreign leader, Trump slammed the country for its trade practices.
The president welcomed South Korea’s cooperation on confronting the North Korean nuclear threat, even as he criticized the country for exporting more to the United States than it imports, restricting sales of U.S. autos, and enabling China in circumventing global trade rules.
“From when the U.S.-Korea trade deal was signed in 2011 to 2016 — and you know who signed it, you know who wanted it — our trade deficit with South Korea has increased by more than $11 billion. Not exactly a great deal,” Trump said.
The U.S. ran a $17 billion trade deficit in goods and services with South Korea in 2016, with a $27.7 billion deficit in goods offset only somewhat by a $10.7 billion surplus in services.
The newly elected Moon had come to the United States for his first foreign trip as president. But while Trump praised South Korea for its cooperation on security issues and expressed confidence in an improving the economic relationship, he didn’t pull any punches.
He called on South Korea to open its markets to American cars and “to stop enabling the export of dumped steel.”
Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which represents steel companies as well as workers, says that some ultra-cheap Chinese steel finds its way through the South Korean market into the United States, circumventing restrictions the U.S. has placed on these products.
South Korea is the second-largest supplier of steel to the United States. The Trump administration is currently considering …read more