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The Baltic Dry index, a measure of the trade in bulk commodities, has been touching historic lows. China, which in 2014 overtook the US as the biggest trading nation, this month reported double-digit falls in both exports and imports in January. In Brazil, which is experiencing its worst recession in more than a century, imports from China have collapsed.
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As inevitably happens with all things trade in this White House a vigorous debate has erupted over the future of Korus, as the pact is known in Washington. Among the biggest opponents within the administration are the Trump security team, which thinks breaking commercial ties with an important ally in the middle of a geopolitical crisis is probably not a great idea. US business doesn’t like the idea either. Both are likely to mean at least some short-term delays in Washington carrying out any threats. But then again the politics are also volatile in Seoul. Might the new government there exercise its own right to pull out?