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Trump govt. unlikely to focus on Korean economy

The US government will likely put South Korean economic issues on the back burner for a while as it will focus more on security concerns in the northeast Asian region, experts said Thursday.

According to the report by the state-run Korea Development Institute, researchers and experts from renowned think tanks, including the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, held round-table talks in Seoul last week to discuss the future of Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula in the Trump era.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

"In recent remarks on trade protectionism and currency manipulators by US President Donald Trump, he hasn't mentioned South Korea," Jeong Young-sik from KIEP was quoted as saying by the report. "For the United States, South Korea is important in terms of security, rather than economy."

Since the inauguration of Trump in January, many have been concerned about the high possibility of a renegotiation of the Seoul-Washington free trade pact and the designation of currency manipulator in accordance with his previous comments.

For the recent month, however, the US has taken no immediate action against the South Korean economy.

The KIEP researcher noted that the US government will be more prudent in bringing such issues to the surface, considering South Korea's geopolitical importance.

He cited that US Defense Secretary James Mattis chose South Korea for his first overseas trip earlier this month.

At the same time, Seoul is in close talks with Washington on the deployment of the US-led missile system, or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which sparked strong protest from China.

Other experts said the regional tension may intensify due to rising conflict between the US and China over issues like the missile system and South China sea.

"Such sensitive issue between the two super powers can bring an unexpected disadvantage to South Korea," said Kim Han-kwon from the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. "South Korea has to set its stance precisely on the issue." (Yonhap)

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