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Korea overhaul trade deal

30 March, 2018, 04:29 | Author: Samuel Sharp
  • A worker works at an assembly line of Hyundai Motor's plant in Asan South Korea on Tuesday

South Korea has agreed to further open its auto market to the United States as the two countries prepare to amend their six-year-old trade agreement following complaints by U.S. President Donald Trump.

South Korea decamps America's new 25 percent tariff on imported steel but must receive quotas on steel exports identical to 70 percent of its average yearly shipments to the USA from 2015 to 2017.

Many U.S. lawmakers, particularly Democrats, had opposed the 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal because it had a similar currency manipulation side-agreement that could not be enforced. Trump has demanded action to shrink USA trade deficits with a wide range of partners.

THE White House late yesterday hailed the successful renegotiation of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which they said expanded US access to the South Korean auto market while limiting US imports of Korean steel and aluminium. China's official news agency said on Thursday that Kim would be willing to give up his nuclear weapons and hold a summit with the U.S. Comparing the fifth year of the FTA to the year before it went into effect, US poultry producers have faced a 78 percent collapse of exports to Korea - a loss of 82,000 metric tons of poultry exports to Korea.

While the United States posted a trade surplus of $10.7 billion with South Korea in the services sector, it recorded a goods trade deficit of $27.7 billion in 2016, leaving an overall deficit of $17.0 billion.

South Korea has been kept on a Treasury currency "monitoring list" due to its large global current account surplus and USA trade surplus.

South Korea was one of several countries that received an initial exemption from broad USA tariffs on steel and aluminum last week. Though the final details are still being hammered out, that pact will prohibit competitive currency devaluations meant to promote South Korean exports, and includes "strong commitments on transparency and accountability" related to currency policy, according to the trade representative's office. Korea has always been an important trading partner for USA agriculture and now ranks as our sixth-highest value market.


In exchange, South Korea will be exempted from the 25 percent tariff on its steel exports to the United States.

Washington and Seoul this week reached an agreement "in principle" to update the 2012 agreement - which President Donald Trump had denounced as a "horrible deal" - following talks that began last summer.

However, it has been suspending the duties on allies like the EU, Canada and Mexico. Including it in the text of the deal would have required a lengthy legislative approval process, a path that administration officials indicated they did not want to go down. USA red meat exports to Korea set a record last year of $1.7 billion, up 19% year-over-year and up 69% from 2012. Administration officials said South Korea would be exempt from the steel tariff, but not the new levy on aluminum.

South Korea also agreed to amend a government health program that pays premium prices to domestic drug companies in order to ensure a level playing field for USA pharmaceuticals producers, the US officials said. Caps have been doubled on the number of USA vehicles that meet US safety standards that can be exported to Korea, and some regulatory barriers on emissions and fix have been lowered.

South Korea's top trade negotiator said Monday that the revised agreement calls for delaying the earlier agreed-to elimination of tariffs on South Korean-made pick-up trucks to 2041 from 2021.

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong speaks to the media in Seoul, on March 26, 2018.

Administration officials, briefing reporters on condition that they not be named, specifically predicted that the agreement would increase the number of American automobiles and auto parts sold in South Korea.

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