US President Donald Trump may step up pressure to renegotiate the free trade deal with South Korea during his state visit here next week, Seoul's trade minister said Tuesday.
"There's a possibility that Trump will mention the need to cut the US trade deficit (with South Korea)," Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said during a parliamentary audit, ahead of Trump's visit scheduled on Nov. 7-8.
When asked whether Trump may touch on specific sectors, such as auto and steel, Kim said: "We are reviewing such possibilities, but it is not likely to happen according to our sources."
Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong looks at a document during a parliamentary audit held at the National Assembly on Oct. 31, 2017. (Yonhap)
Trump has blamed the five-year-old deal for America's growing deficit in goods trade with South Korea. But Seoul has argued the deficit would be larger without the deal and called for a joint review of its impact on the two economies.
With continued pressure from Washington, the two nations earlier this month agreed to begin the long-anticipated process of amending the FTA.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said working-level consultations have been under way between the two nations to coordinate the list of terms before a summit between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Trump. Their meeting is expected to focus on North Korea and trade issues.
Experts said that even though the US has a deficit in goods trade in auto and steel, the country has enjoyed surpluses in services and food-related areas under the deal. (Yonhap)