UPDATE : 2019.7.19 FRI 15:18
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Trump hails GM decision to close S. Korea plant

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday hailed General Motors Co.'s decision to shut down a plant in South Korea, saying the carmaker will now "move back" to Detroit.

GM announced the same day that it will close one of its four car assembly plants in South Korea by the end of May due to lower demand for its vehicles. The move came as part of the Detroit-based automaker's broad restructuring program across the world.

"GM Korea company announced today that it will cease production and close its Gunsan plant in May of 2018, and they're going to move back to Detroit," Trump said at a trade-related meeting at the White House.

The facility in Gunsan, 270 kilometers south of Seoul, was underutilized and running at 20 percent of its capacity for the past three years.

"You don't hear these things, except for the fact that Trump became president," Trump said. "Believe me, you wouldn't be hearing that. So they're moving back from Korea to Detroit. They're moving."

This AP file photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)

Trump has made it one of his pet projects to fix what he calls bad trade deals and "bring back" jobs to the American people.

Again, he slammed the bilateral free trade agreement between South Korea and the U.S., saying it was supposed to produce up to 200,000 jobs for Americans but ended up producing "nothing but losses."

"We have a very bad trade deal with Korea. Very, very bad trade deal," he said. "It's a deal that -- it's incompetent that somebody could have made a deal like that."

The pact took effect in 2012 and negotiations have been under way to amend the deal under Trump.

"We'll either negotiate a fair deal or we're going to terminate the deal," the president said. "But before we do that, already General Motors is coming back into Detroit. That is a really significant statement. Many others to follow from many other countries."

It's "just a fantastic thing" that GM is moving back to Detroit, he added.

Trump also renewed his criticism of countries the U.S. helps defend, citing Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea.

"They pay us a fraction of what it costs. And we're talking to all of those countries about that because it's not fair that we defend them, and they pay us a fraction of the cost of that defense," he said.

South Korea currently shoulders about half the burden of keeping some 28,000 U.S. troops on its soil to defend against North Korea.

Hwi Won  edt@koeapost.com

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