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Uncertainties of Trump’s Possible Second Term: Insights from U.S. Experts

Daniel Kim Views  

미 대선
John Russell (from left) and Sander Lurie, a partner in Dentons’ government relations practice, and Eric Altbach, a partner at consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group, are speaking at a seminar on the U.S. presidential election held in Washington D.C. on the 22nd (local time)./ Ha Man Ju, Washington correspondent

U.S. experts suggest that South Korea should manage potential risks associated with the second term of the Trump administration by building personal relationships between the Korean and U.S. leaders and having more dialogue with Republican strongholds where Korean companies are investing heavily.

They made this suggestion in response to a question about South Korea’s response plan in case Trump wins the election, pressures for a significant increase in defense cost sharing, and attempts to reduce or withdraw U.S. forces in Korea at a seminar on the U.S. presidential election held in Washington, D.C., on the 22nd (local time).

Eric Altbach, a partner at Albright Stonebridge Group, predicted that we will see more personal diplomacy, pointing out that Shinzo Abe, the former Prime Minister of Japan, managed risks by building personal relationships and taking specific measures to respond to gaps when Trump was in office.

In fact, Prime Minister Abe made special efforts to build personal ties, starting with a visit to New York on November 17, 2016, shortly after the U.S. presidential election. There, he presented the then-president-elect with a set of golf clubs, and the two leaders showed a bromance throughout their tenure.

미 대선
Eric Altbach, a partner at Albright Stonebridge Group (from left), John Russell, and Sander Lurie, partners in Dentons’ government relations practice, are speaking at a seminar on the U.S. presidential election held in Washington D.C. on the 22nd (local time)./ Ha Man Ju, Washington correspondent

Tami Overby, a senior advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group (former head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea), said that it’s not well known that Korean companies are investing heavily in the U.S., particularly in Republican-leaning states and suggested that more conversations should be held with lawmakers in those states.

Altbach, a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for China Affairs, predicted that even if the Korean government and the Biden administration agree on defense cost sharing in preparation for Trump’s re-election, Trump may not care about the agreement and could renegotiate it.

The Korean-U.S. negotiation team, led by senior representatives of Lee Tae Woo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative for defense cost-sharing negotiations, and Linda Specht, a senior adviser and lead negotiator for security agreements at the State Department, will begin negotiations on Korea’s share of the cost of stationing U.S. forces in Korea after 2026 in Hawaii, U.S.A. from the 23rd to the 25th.

Senior Advisor Specht told Yonhap News on the same day, “The U.S. pursues a fair and equitable result of the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) for defense cost-sharing that will strengthen and sustain the Korea-U.S. alliance.”

Partner Altbach predicted that he would not think he could take other trade measures against Korea just because he emphasized the renegotiation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as a major achievement during his tenure several times.

He said that Trump could impose additional tariffs, his favorite economic tool, on Korea, which has a large bilateral trade surplus with the U.S., as he has done with other countries.

John Russell, a partner in charge of Dentons’ government relations practice, described Trump as a person whose future cannot be predicted by past actions. He noted that Trump pushed for a ban on TikTok during his tenure but now shows the opposite position.

Partner Altbach predicted that if Trump values diplomacy emphasizing personal friendships with dictators, he may try to find a breakthrough in North Korean policy again despite the failure of previous summits with Kim Jong Un, the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea.

Sander Lurie, a partner at Dentons, predicted that if Trump is re-elected and the Republican Party becomes the majority party in both the House and Senate in the general election held together with the November presidential election, they could repeal the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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