Trump exempts South Korea from steel import tariff

Trump exempts South Korea from steel import tariff”

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong announced on March 26 that the USA government's additional 25% tariff will not be applied to 2.68 million tons of South Korean steel, which is equivalent to 74% of the steel South Korea exported to the US a year ago.

The two countries reached agreement "in principle" on the trade deal known as Korus, South Korea's trade ministry said in a statement on Monday.

In April a year ago, Mr Trump told Reuters that he would either renegotiate or terminate what he called a "horrible" trade deal that has doubled the United States goods trade deficit with South Korea since 2012.

Trump's action on steel and aluminium, along with plans to slap tariffs on up to US$60 billion (RM234.8 billion) in Chinese goods had fuelled concerns of a damaging global trade war.

No South Korean automakers now export pickup trucks to the USA but Hyundai Motor said a year ago it planned to launch a model there to catch up with a shift away from sedans.

While a number of countries have received temporary exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, South Korea is the first country to complete the necessary negotiations for permanent exemption.

Under Korus revisions, United States auto makers will be able to bring into South Korea 50,000 vehicles per auto maker per year that meet USA safety standards, not necessarily Korean standards, up from 25,000 vehicles previously. Brands such as Hyundai and Kia have found ready markets in the United States, but the big US automakers have complained that restrictions keep them from trying to make the same headway in the South Korean market.

The revisions set a "bad pre-cedent", said law professor Choi Won Mog of Ewha Womans University.

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

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

To avoid the steel tariff, South Korea would limit United States shipments of the metal to about 2.7 million tons a year, the ministry said.

Seoul is the third-largest steel exporter to Washington.

On cars, which is an area of particular interest for the Trump administration, the U.S. will maintain tariffs on South Korea's exports of pick-up trucks until 2041, from the previously agreed 2021.

"So there's a finite end to it", the USA mill source said. The current ceiling is 25,000 cars, but there's no United States company that sells more than 10,000 cars a year, Kim said.

All three major United States automakers - General Motors, Chrysler, Ford - each shipped fewer than 10,000 vehicles to South Korea a year ago, Kim said, adding: "This is an important fact".

South Korea's trade minister Kim Hyon-chong speaks during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. At present, vehicles manufactured in the United States and exported to South Korea include Mercedes-Benz GLE, GLE Coupe and GLS and Toyota Sienna.

"This is not a free trade, but a managed trade".

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