Published: Wed, March 28, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

S.Korea trade pact revised; Seoul gets tariff exemption

S.Korea trade pact revised; Seoul gets tariff exemption

If the changes to the deal announced Monday stick, they could allay some of those concerns. In return, South Korea received an exemption from a 25 percent steel tariff with a quota of about 2.68 million tons, or 70 percent of the average exports to the USA over the previous three years.

But experts in Tokyo noted that Japan does not have a bilateral trade deal with the United States that the Trump administration can use to strike a bargain.

The US and South Korea have reached an agreement on revising their trade deal.

South Korea's steel association said in a statement it was a "relief" that South Korea has been excluded from U.S. steel tariffs, but it was regrettable it was unable to secure higher quotas for steel exports.

"This leaves a bad precedent of exchanging steel tariffs - which is a breach of global trade law - for a legitimate free trade agreement, in negotiations", Wonmog Choi, a law professor at Ewha Womans University was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

"I think the strategy has worked, quite frankly", he said. "We announced the tariff".

"So there's a finite end to it", the USA mill source said.

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. S. Korea will also consider the USA standards when it revises its standards.

The Seoul government earlier said it is considering filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the safeguard duties as bilateral consultations have failed to yield a compromise.

Peace House is a three-storey building built in 1989 that has already hosted several high-level inter-Korean meetings, including one in January to discuss North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympic Games, held in South Korea's PyeongChang county.

Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong will brief the media on the outcome of the trade negotiation from 11.30am in Seoul. The modified deal will extend the tariff by 20 years to 2041.

Trump was elected in 2016 after promising to punish what he saw as unfair trade practices by other countries, particularly China.

The announcement came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reached "a very productive understanding".

Only 10,000 US vehicles were imported to South Korea a year ago, making up only 7 percent of imports.

The import quota is equivalent to 74 percent of last year's South Korean steel exports to the United States. Canada, Mexico, the EU, Brazil, Argentina and Australia also received temporary exemptions from the tariffs that will last until May 1, unless a long-term agreement is reached. Lee meets with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, consummating a major trade pact which was signed in 2007 but has languished in both countries' legislatures until it was finally approved by the U.S. Congress on October 12. "We are working on that", Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday".

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