US, S. Korea hammer out amended trade deal

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It's unclear how the proposed changes to the pact itself would reverse the doubling of our Korea trade deficit under KORUS, but the new currency agreement could make a difference if it has teeth, delaying the USA tariff cuts on Korean trucks could stop the big imbalance from getting even worse and the parallel steel agreement is significant.

Under the revamped deal, each United States carmaker will be allowed to export 50,000 vehicles per year to South Korea that meet American safety standards, up from 25,000 previously.

Her comments were the Trump administration's first confirmation that the two sides had reached an agreement in trade talks covering revisions to the U.S. South Korean Trade Agreement (KORUS) and a South Korean exemption from new U.S. metals tariffs.

The U.S. has never before included a currency deal in a trade pact or a side letter.

South Korean 10,000 won note is seen on US 100 dollar notes in this picture illustration taken in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 15, 2015. Whatever the final details, the currency provisions will not be part of the final trade pact, and there are questions about how it would be enforced.

Officials said the revised deal widened USA access to South Korea's vehicle market while providing American manufacturers protection from South Korean imports. Steel, however, will face a hard annual quota instead of the 25 percent tariff. US tariffs on imports of aluminum will remain at the 10 percent imposed. Korean aluminum producers would still be subject to Trump's 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

"This is a huge win", a senior administration official said of the steel quota.

However, it has been suspending the duties on allies like the EU, Canada and Mexico.

The US trade deficit in goods with South Korea - almost US$23 billion a year ago - widened after the original pact took effect in 2012, one reason Trump has denounced it. "I believe this will help Korean firms to trade stably with the US, without concern".

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In exchange, the US agreed to indefinitely exempt South Korea from recently imposed 25 percent steel tariffs, and extend expiring tariffs on Korean pickup trucks from 2021 to 2041.

Six year old free trade agreement overhauled by USA and South Korea as United States has broadened its access to South Korea's auto market while offering American manufacturers conservation from South Korean imports. While the plan had limited additional funds for innovative drugs to Korean companies, it will include higher payments for innovative American-made drugs as well starting this year.

The agreement will limit South Korean steel exports to the United States.

The United States ran a $10.3 billion trade deficit with South Korea past year.

The KORUS trade agreement between the two countries was negotiated under the George W. Bush administration but did not have enough support from Congress and stakeholders at the time.

Provisions in KORUS allow the two countries to rework sections of the trade pact without the congressional oversight and consultations required under Trade Promotion Authority as long as there are no changes to US law.

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.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, welcomes South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on June 30, 2017. The U.S. will likely try to include such currency deals in its future negotiations with Japan and other trading partners.

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