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July 24, 2017

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Trump is going to renegotiate the US' free trade deal with South Korea

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Wednesday announced plans to renegotiate its free trade agreement with South Korea, in line with U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist vow to put "America First."

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he had formally notified Seoul of the move and that a meeting would be held in August, though no specific date had been set.

Since the agreement went into affect in 2012, "our trade deficit in goods with (South) Korea has doubled from US$13.2 billion to US$27.6 billion, while U.S. goods exports have actually gone down," Lighthizer said in a statement.

"This is quite different from what the previous administration sold to the American people when it urged approval of this agreement," he said.

Trump has sought to shake up U.S. trade agreements, with the New York real estate mogul regularly touting his ability to negotiate "deals."

He has lashed out at countries that have large trade surpluses with the U.S. and opposed multilateral agreements.

In January, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal with 12 intended member countries in the Americas and Asia. He had previously expressed an interest in forging bilateral trade agreements with TPP countries.

In April, Trump said he had agreed with the leaders of Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

And in May, German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries, following a meeting with Lighthizer, said that the U.S. hadn't ruled out a withdrawal from the World Trade Organization.

The U.S. stance was not a "concrete threat," Zypries said, but a sign that everything was on the table.

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