White House Says Revised South Korea Trade Pact Within Reach

White House Says Revised South Korea Trade Pact Within Reach

USA tariffs of 25 percent on imported Korean pickups will remain in place until 2041 rather than phase out to zero over the next three years.

South Korea's trade ministry announced changes to the trade pact on Monday during a briefing in Seoul, calling the discussions "heated" but ultimately successful in eliminating "two uncertainties".

South Korean exports to the USA of steel will be limited to "70% of the average annual export volume for these steel products based on a three-year average for 2015-2017".

South Korea agreed to reduce its steel exports to the U.S.by roughly 30 percent and double the number of cars each US auto manufacturer can sell there without meeting South Korean safety and environmental standards, despite American vehicle sales being far below the current limit.

The U.S. Treasury Department is also in talks on a deal to prevent Seoul from deliberately pushing its currency lower to give South Korean exporters a competitive advantage.

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are planning separate meetings with North Korea's Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks.

The U.S. exported only about 10,000 vehicles in 2017 but that number should increase as trade barriers and regulations are removed, said administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The administration has threatened to initiate import restrictions such as high tariffs on steel and aluminum to gain concessions from its partners in negotiations.

While the country won a steel tariff exemption, it is still subject to a quota of about 2.7 million tons of steel products a year, about 74 per cent of its exports in 2017.

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The officials confirmed that South Korea agreed to cut its steel exports to the United States by about 30 percent in exchange for the rest being excluded from steel tariffs. The United States is negotiating with Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the European Union, Australia and Argentina.

The U.S. -Korea Free Trade Agreement or KORUS has long vexed U.S. auto and auto parts industry because of caps on American cars sold in Korea and other barriers to entering the market.

The deal will subject South Korea to a 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

South Korea will consider US vehicle emission standards in formulating its emissions standards for 2021-2025. The program has been limited to Korean companies.

The amendments do not directly address some major trade issues between the two countries, including agriculture.

South Korea previously subjected US cars to addition testing and environmental standards, but now will align those tests with USA standards.

Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., told Lighthizer she and other members of Congress anxious that changes to KORUS could have financial repercussions in their districts. "And we obviously would want to be kept abreast and in the loop as to the changes that are going to be made and as to our consideration as to how it will affect our districts".

While South Korea says its currency market intervention is restricted to smoothing operations both ways, the practice has exposed the country to criticism that it may be devaluing its currency to sharpen exporters' competitiveness.

The new deal doubles - to 50,000 - the cars each USA automaker can export annually to South Korea.

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