• Bloomberg


President Donald Trump said the U.S. is nearing a “wonderful” trade breakthrough with South Korea, which is seeking relief from steel tariffs and in talks on revising a bilateral trade pact.

A U.S. deal with South Korea “is very close to being finished,” Trump said Friday at the White House. “We’re going to have a wonderful deal with a wonderful ally. We are going very close to it. It was a deal that was causing a lot of problems for our country in terms of employment and in terms of lots of other things.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross elaborated, saying the U.S. is close to a “pretty comprehensive resolution” with South Korea. “It will encompass, if it goes through, both the 232s and broader trade issues,” Ross said, referring to section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act. It was the legal clause the president used to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the grounds they threaten national security.

South Korea was among several U.S. allies initially excluded from the tariffs when they took effect Friday. The U.S. spared these countries as it negotiates with them on the conditions under which they may be exempted on a permanent basis.

U.S. and South Korean officials met this month for the latest round of talks to amend their free-trade agreement, which Trump has called unfair to America. Before the negotiating round, Trump hinted the U.S. might withdraw troops from South Korea if it doesn’t get a satisfactory overhaul of the trade agreement.