Ben Sasse of Nebraska slammed President Donald Trump's views on trade policy Saturday, following reports the administration is planning to withdraw the United States from its free trade agreement with South Korea. Back in April, Sasse said Trump considering having the USA leave the North American Free Trade Agreement was a "disastrously bad idea", The Hill reports.
A White House spokeswoman told the Journal that "discussions are ongoing", adding that "we have no announcements at this time". It's the latest infighting over trade among the president's influential advisers.
The National Association of Manufacturers, for instance, sent an "alert" email to members shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday.
"We encourage you to urgently arrange for calls by senior executives to the White House and other senior administration officials urging them not to proceed".
Terminating the South Korea deal could complicate diplomatic relations at a time the nations are trying to cooperate in thwarting the threat posed by North Korea's missile tests.
"President Trump provided his conceptual approval of planned purchases by South Korea of billions of dollars in American military equipment".
In July, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that since 2012, the trade deficit in goods with South Korea has doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion, while exports of U.S. goods to South Korea have gone down. The plan also upsets the business community.
The South, which hosts 28,500 United States troops to defend it, is banned from building its own nuclear weapons under a 1974 atomic energy deal it signed with Washington, which instead offers a "nuclear umbrella" against potential attacks. "USTR has long pressed the Korean government to address burdensome regulations which often exclude USA firms or artificially set prices for American intellectual property".
President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about the pact and the sharp increase in the US trade deficit that followed the 2012 implementation of the agreement. But he also noted the renegotiation was an opportunity to address those concerns.
Calls are also mounting in South Korea for Seoul to build nuclear weapons of its own to defend itself as nuclear-armed North Korea's missile stand-off with the USA escalates.
South Korea is the U.S.'s sixth-largest trading partner, while the U.S.is South Korea's second-largest trading partner after China.