President Trump signed a revised free trade agreement with South Korea in New York, cementing the first bilateral trade deal of his administration and suggesting the United States could soon win similar agreements with other trading partners.
“It’s a great day for the United States, and it’s a great day for South Korea,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.
The revised United States-Korea Trade Agreement includes steps to open up the Korean market to increased American exports, most notably for automobiles, and will allow the United States to continue imposing a 25 percent tariff on Korean trucks until 2041.
But analysts said there are few fundamental changes to the existing agreement, which was negotiated under President Barack Obama and which Mr. Trump has blamed for hundreds of thousands of lost American jobs. And they said the revised agreement includes few provisions that will appreciably change the trade balance between the two countries, which Mr. Trump has complained about.
For example: The agreement would double a cap on the number of American automobiles that may be easily exported to South Korea, to 50,000 from 25,000 a year per automaker. But no American automaker came close to reaching the existing, lower cap last year.
“The president referred to this deal as one of the worst agreements ever,” said Wendy Cutler, a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, who helped negotiate the initial Korean agreement as a member of Mr. Obama’s administration. “And if you look at what was agreed to, it doesn’t seem to change the agreement dramatically.”
“I view this as a win-win deal, some solid improvements,” she added, “but nothing dramatic.”
Business groups cheered the updated pact, but stopped well short of calling it transformational.
“Manufacturers were glad to see the president recommit himself to the U.S. trading partnership with Korea today,” said Linda Dempsey, the vice president of international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. “A robust U.S.-Korea F.T.A. is essential to the jobs of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers across America.”>