Korea, US reach deal 'in principle' on FTA, steel tariffs

S. Korea Gets Temporary Exemption from Trump's Steel Tariffs

Lighthizer initiated a process last July under the US-South Korea trade deal to negotiate changes to the pact to address market access issues and the trade imbalance between the two countries - one of Trump's chief complaints about the deal, it said.

In return for the exemption, Seoul accepted the USA call to set an import ceiling on South Korean steel products at 2.68 million tons per year, or 70 percent of South Korea's average steel exports to the United States for three years through 2017.

Under the revised agreement, US automakers will be allowed to export 50,000 vehicles a year to South Korea, double the existing quota.

To avoid the heavy steel import duties, South Korea allowed US automakers a greater access to its domestic market by easing environmental, safety regulations and extending the USA tariffs on South Korean pickup truck imports. Moon urged Trump "to show the world that our alliance is very solid" and resolve their trade disputes in a phone call earlier this month.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not issue a statement or respond to requests for comment. But the country has accepted a quota on exports of the metal to the United States. The quota is set at 70 per cent of the average steel sales to the United States during 2015-2017.

South Korea's Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said although the United States will end 25 percent tariffs on South Korean- made pickup trucks 20 years later than earlier planned, no local auto companies export pick-up trucks made in South Korea to the United States.

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South Korea would have to limit its steel exports to 70 percent of the current level as part of the deal, which has been agreed to in principle. If President Trump becomes a two-term president...

"I don't see a high chance of vehicle makers expanding U.S. imports", he said. Seoul had negotiated with the USA side on the new tariffs and the bilateral free trade pact that took effect in 2012. Cars account for more than 70 percent of the surplus.

In exchange it will be exempted from the U.S. steel tariffs, trade minister Kim Hyon-chong told reporters. The government will allow United States manufacturers to sell up to 50,000 cars in South Korea that don't meet local standards.

Kim told Reuters no automakers previously exceeded the 25,000 vehicle threshold.

The top negotiator said he also asked for relief from safeguard duties on Korean washers and solar panels during recent meetings with American economic officials, but the prospects remain unclear because the duties were imposed at the request of American companies. The two countries were able to reach agreement by narrowing the range of discussions and will seek to settle the details soon, the ministry said.

The Trump administration instigated talks in July to renegotiate the free trade treaty, known as KORUS, and the U.S. last week imposed duties on steel imports from multiple countries including China, raising fears of a trade war.

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