Trump exempts South Korea from steel import tariff

Trump exempts South Korea from steel import tariff

When asked about Trump's method of using tariffs as a negotiating tactic, Mnuchin mentioned the agreement with South Korea as an example of how the president's approach was working. Reducing South Korean non-tariff barriers to United States automotive exports has been a priority for the Trump administration. The country also agreed to double to 50,000 the number of United States cars that could be imported without meeting local safety standards, although American manufacturers sell far fewer cars in the market.

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

Analysts say Washington granted the exemptions in return for concessions from Seoul in amending the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

Trump pulled out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact past year and said that he would focus on negotiating new bilateral deals with countries around the world.

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 pickup trucks to 2041 from 2021.

Japan, along with China, was not granted a reprieve. The issue has been seen as a potential wedge between the allies as both their leaders plan for expected meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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.

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South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong speaks to the media during a briefing at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 26, 2018.

"The Trump administration needed to harvest an outcome from the negotiation to show its supporters", he added, warning that Washington could in future "slap tariffs on semiconductors" - a crucial South Korean export. The current ceiling is 25,000 cars, but there's no U.S. company that sells more than 10,000 cars a year, Kim said.

The South Korean trade minister said the USA side focused on the auto sector as vehicle and auto parts accounted for 74 percent of South Korea's surplus in trade with the United States in 2017.

Seoul Korea's trade surplus with the United States was about US$18 billion past year according to the Korea International Trade Association.

South Korea also said it would "take into account USA standards and global trends" when Seoul decided its fuel economy and emissions rules from 2021 to 2015.

Trump's hardcore support may be disappointed that he has already begun granting exemptions to his protectionist policies, but close ties between the US and South Korea are of particular importance at this moment in time.