South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump also discussed possible ways to reward North Korea for its denuclearization measures.
Fresh off his visit to North Korea and ahead of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed a free-trade agreement with the United States, marking the first time the President Donald Trump has finalized a major trade deal since entering office.
The signing ceremony in New York on Monday represented key progress for proponents of free trade between the partners, as Trump last year reportedly planned to withdraw from the pact, which came into effect in 2012. Trump during his election campaign called the original agreement a “jobs killer” and complained its terms had contributed to America’s growing trade deficit.
As part of his push to rebalance global trade in America’s favor, the president is also negotiating changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement and is pressuring China to lower its barriers to American products. Nafta negotiations are ongoing, while there are few signs of progress with Beijing.
Trade analysts say changes to the South Korea agreement were largely cosmetic, as the president limited the scope of renegotiations by declining to invoke U.S. trade law that would have required congressional approval of the final deal.
The terms of the new pact included modifications to tariffs and automotive quotas.
Trump called the agreement a “historic milestone” although the changes agreed upon — doubling the number of U.S. automobiles that can be sold in South Korea and keeping a tariff on South Korean steel in place through 2041 — were largely cosmetic, given that a broader renegotiation would have required approval from Congress.
“This agreement will reduce bureaucracy and increase prosperity in both of our countries,” Trump said.
The two leaders also discussed possible ways to reward North Korea for its denuclearization efforts, including a second U.S.-North Korea summit.
“The leaders agreed to continue communicating closely about corresponding measures,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
In their bilateral summit held in New York, the leaders of South Korea and the United States also agreed on the need to show North Korea a bright future following its denuclearization.
“The leaders agreed to seek ways to encourage North Korea’s denuclearization process by showing a bright future it may enjoy once it reaches complete denuclearization,” the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.
However, for the time being, the sanctions on North Korea remain in place.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at another press briefing that he hoped to travel back to North Korea before the end of the year to make final preparations for a second summit.
“I expect I’ll be traveling to Pyongyang before too long,” he said.
Asked if that would be before the end of the year, he replied: “Yes. Lord willing, I’ll be traveling before the end of the year.”
Pompeo said he was optimistic that Kim would deliver on his pledge to denuclearize, but this would take time.
“We’re bringing the two senior leaders, the individuals who can actually make the decisions that will move this process forward, bring them together so we can continue to make progress towards what the U.N. Security Council has demanded and what Chairman Kim has promised he would do.
This Christmas season appears to be on its way to being substantially more filled with peace and good will than the last one, at least in terms of the American relationship with foreign entities. Our interpersonal domestic relationships are proving to be much less tranquil.DONATE
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