General Motors announced that it will shutter a factory in South Korea by the end of May while it restructures operations worldwide. In a statement, GM executive V.P. Barry Engle said, "As we are at a critical juncture of needing to make product allocation decisions, the ongoing discussions must demonstrate significant progress by the end of February, when GM will make important decisions on next steps."
Located in the port city of Gunsan, southwest of Seoul, the plant manufactures the Cruze sedan and the Orlando SUV. Its 2000 workers made 33,932 vehicles in 2017 at about 20 percent of its capacity, Since GM Korea started in 2002, it has manufactured 10 million vehicles.
On Monday at the White House, President Donald Trump mentioned the announcement of the restructuring and added, "They're going to move back to Detroit." At a White House meeting related to trade, the president said, "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, "You don't hear these things, except for the fact that Trump became president. Believe me, you wouldn't be hearing that. So they're moving back from Korea to Detroit. They're moving." The president predicted that “many others” will follow GM’s lead in moving back to the U.S.
Addressing the current round of bilateral trade talks between the U.S. and South Korea, Trump said, "We have a very bad trade deal with Korea. Very, very bad trade deal. It's a deal that -- it's incompetent that somebody could have made a deal like that."
The bilateral free trade deal with South Korea went into effect in 2012 and was supposed to create 200,000 jobs in the U.S. Negotiations have been under way to amend the deal. "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 is "just a fantastic thing" that GM is moving back to Detroit, Trump added. He also criticized the contributions of some countries to mutual defense, citing Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. Trump said, "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."
When Spero News checked the websites of the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, it could find no mention of the president’s announcement.