U.S. President Donald Trump has used a decision by General Motors to close one of its four plants in South Korea to introduce fresh criticism of the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.
Trump described GM’s announcement that it would close a vehicle factory in South Korea, and then turned to the topic of the U.S.-South Korea free trade contract, where the issues of U.S. automakers are a main concern.
“We have a very bad trade deal with Korea,” Trump stated during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to talk about steel and aluminum imports. “We’ll either work out a fair deal or we’ll terminate the deal – however before we do that, already General Motors is returning into Detroit. That is a really significant statement.”
GM did not state that it prepares to move production of vehicles to the United States from South Korea as part of its restructuring of work there.
“The statement is associated with our need to reorganize our business in South Korea. Depending on the outcome of those reorganizing efforts there could be broad worldwide implications however as we stated yesterday we need the full engagement of all stakeholders with a sense of urgency,” the automaker stated after Trump’s remarks.
The White House did not immediately provide explanation on whether Trump had been informed by GM that vehicle production would be moved from South Korea to Detroit.
The automaker stated it would decide the future of its rest of the South Korean operations within weeks, and remains in talks with the South Korean government and labor unions on how to cut costs and make the business successful.
“Time is short and everybody must move with urgency,” GM President Dan Ammann informed Reuters.
South Korean authorities stated on Tuesday that financial aid to GM Korea will depend on the automaker’s desire to devote to new investment in the operations that remain.
Ammann told Reuters GM will invest “if we succeed in working with our stakeholders to restructure and get to a viable cost structure.”
GM’s move is the newest in a series of steps to put profitability and innovation ahead of sales and volume. Since 2015 GM has exited unprofitable markets consisting of Europe, Australia, South Africa and Russia.