- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top lawmakers on the U.S. House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over trade warned Tuesday against pulling out of a free trade agreement with South Korea, amid recent reports that President Trump is thinking about withdrawing from the pact, known as KORUS.

The leaders wrote that North Korea’s latest nuclear test underscores the importance of U.S.-South Korea ties, while also acknowledging the trade relationship between the two countries can be enhanced.

“[B]ecause KORUS’s operation has presented frustrations for some important U.S. industries and stakeholders, we must press South Korea to improve its implementation and compliance,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

“To be effective and constructive, however, we must not withdraw from the agreement while we do so,” they said.

The statement was issued by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Rep. Richard Neal, the panel’s ranking member, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, and Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on Senate Finance.

“We welcome bilateral discussions to strengthen the economic ties between South Korea and the United States, and we reiterate the importance of transparency and close consultation by the administration with Congress and American businesses and workers,” they said.

Mr. Trump told reporters over the weekend that he’s weighing what to do on the pact.

“It’s very much on my mind,” the president said.

The United States and South Korea also held a special session last month to talk about possible changes to the agreement.

“The United States and Korea have an important economic relationship,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last month. “Unfortunately, too many American workers have not benefited from the agreement.”

“President Trump is committed to substantial improvements in the Korean agreement that address the trade imbalance and ensure that the deal is fully implemented,” he said.

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