Washington, Mar 23 (PTI) President Donald Trump said today that his administration was “very close” to striking a trade deal with South Korea, an achievement that would mark an end to the free trade agreement between the two countries.

Trump, who made the comments during a press conference to mark his signing of a USD 1.3 trillion spending bill, has long complained about the trade deal with South Korea.

“We are going to have a wonderful deal with a wonderful ally. We’re getting 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,” Trump said.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who also spoke at the event, said the administration was nearing a “pretty comprehensive resolution” with South Korea.

Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the US was very close to finishing a trade deal South Korea.

“It will encompass, if it goes through, both the 232s and broader trade issues. And we hope by sometime next week to be able to have a real announcement,” Ross told reporters.

The White House yesterday temporarily exempted South Korea from the new steel and aluminum tariffs, which were imposed under a rarely used trade law that allows the president to take trade action to protect national security interests.

That exemption is pending a successful conclusion of talks to amend the 2007 free trade agreement between the US and South Korea, which took effect six years ago, Lighthizer said earlier this week, according to a local media report.

Lighthizer initiated a process last July under the US-South Korea trade deal to negotiate changes to the pact to address market access issues and the trade imbalance between the two countries one of Trump’s chief complaints about the deal, it said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.