Trump threatens China sanctions, vows to rework S. Korea trade deal

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump threatened retaliatory action against two major Asian trading partners on Tuesday, warning of sanctions against China while vowing to revise or scrap a free trade deal with South Korea.

Accusing Beijing of decimating US steel and aluminum industries, Mr Trump said he was "considering all options", including tariffs and quotas.

He recently received two Commerce Department reports concerning alleged Chinese subsidies for steel and aluminum exports.

He has two months to decide on possible retaliatory action and strongly indicated he is leaning towards hitting back at Beijing.

"I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the United States, including the need to address overproduction in China and other countries," he said.

Experts believe any US sanctions would prompt China to respond with sanctions of its own, raising the spectre of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

China produces around half of the world's steel and is accused of flooding the market to keep the economic wheels turning at home.

Mr Trump has received warnings that action against China could drive up prices and hurt US manufacturing outside the steel and aluminum sectors.

Relations with South Korea are also strained, mainly due to Mr Trump's sabre-rattling over North Korea's nuclear program.

Mr Trump also took aim at Seoul, complaining that the US' 2012 free trade deal with South Korea "was a disaster", vowing the US would renegotiate a "fair deal" or scrap it altogether.

The Trump administration initiated talks to renegotiate the US-Korea trade agreement in July last year, arguing it was lopsided because the US' bilateral trade deficit had ballooned under it.

The US trade deficit - which Mr Trump has vowed repeatedly to fix - widened even further during his first year in office, up 12 per cent to US$566 billion (S$750 billion). - AFP