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(LEAD) U.S. plans to withdraw from free trade agreement with S. Korea: report

2017/09/03 03:52

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(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 3, 5-9; ADDS photo)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- The United States plans to withdraw from its free trade agreement with South Korea, the Washington Post reported Saturday, citing multiple sources close to the process.

U.S. President Donald Trump has instructed advisers to prepare for the withdrawal, the report said, adding several White House officials are trying to stop him.

"While it is still possible Trump could decide to stay in the agreement in order to renegotiate its terms, the internal preparations for terminating the deal are far along and the formal withdrawal process could begin as soon as this coming week," the Post quoted the sources as saying on the condition of anonymity.

The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, known as KORUS, took effect in 2012. Last month, the two sides held their first meeting to discuss possible amendments to the deal at Washington's request.

Trump has slammed the trade agreement, calling it a "horrible" deal that has resulted in a large U.S. trade deficit with South Korea.

But Seoul insists the agreement has benefited both sides, and called for a close analysis of its impact on the two economies.

The officials against the withdrawal include Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, the report said.

They do not want to isolate South Korea at a time of heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, it said.

Should Trump decide to withdraw from the deal, which he can do unilaterally despite Congress' approval of the agreement, the FTA would effectively be terminated after six months, in March next year.

hague@yna.co.kr

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