US, S. Korea hammer out amended trade deal in principle

Xinhua
The United States and South Korea have agreed in principle on revisions to a free trade agreement, said senior White House officials at a press teleconference on Tuesday.
Xinhua

The United States and South Korea have agreed in principle on revisions to a free trade agreement, said senior White House officials at a press teleconference on Tuesday.

They said the United States and South Korea agreed to make revisions to the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement which entered into force in 2012, and in return, South Korea will be exempted from the steel tariff imposed by Washington.

According to the officials, the United States can maintain a 25-percent tariff on imported pickup trucks until 2041. Under their original trade deal, the United States should gradually reduce the 25-percent tariff to zero by 2021.

South Korea agreed to double the import quota for American-made cars meeting US safety rules to 50,000 per manufacturer each year, up from the current 25,000 units.

Seoul also agreed to include American pharmaceutical manufacturers in its national health program's premium reimbursement plan.

In addition, both sides were working on a currency agreement dealing with currency practices, which will be finalized by robot provision that will prohibit a competitive currency devaluation and ensure transparency and accountability of monetary policy, said the officials.

In exchange, South Korea will be exempted from the 25 percent tariff on its steel exports to the United States. However, it agreed to limit the amount of steel it can export each year to the United States to 70 percent of its annual average from 2015 to 2017.

The Asian country is still subject to the 10-percent tariff on its aluminum exports to the United States, said the officials.

The agreement represents the first renegotiation of an existing trade deal in the Trump administration, part of a central campaign promise Trump made as a candidate.

On March 8, vowing to protect the US steel and aluminum industry in the name of national security, Trump signed proclamations to impose a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum.

But he has given temporary exemptions to Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, and the European Union in view of the ongoing negotiations with these economies.

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