US, South Korea agree to new trade deal

The new deal doubles- to 50,000- the cars each US automaker can export annually to South Korea

The United States will be able to double its vehicle exports to South Korea as part of a new trade agreement reached between the two countries, a senior Trump administration official said during a phone conference call.

In exchange, South Korea was exempted from the U.S.' 25 percent tariff on foreign steel.

The officials told reporters that the deal includes provisions outlined by South Korean officials on Monday, including a 20-year extension of the 25 percent USA tariff on pickup trucks and a doubling of the Korean import cap on autos that meet US specifications to 50,000 per manufacturer per year.

"This is both a good deal for both countries and a very big deal in the history of US trade negotiations", said one senior administration official who called the agreement "visionary and innovative".

Trump's complaints about South Korean trade practices have caused friction between the two allies at a crucial time, as he prepares for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korea is now among six countries and the European Union with temporary exemptions from a 25 percent steel tariff on imports ordered by Trump.

Asked whether the forex agreement would ensure that South Korea is not declared a manipulator in the US Treasury's next currency report due on April 15, the officials declined to comment, saying such assessments would be made in accordance with Treasury's normal procedures.

The United States and South Korea also agreed to try to make sure neither country devalues its currency intentionally to gain an unfair advantage on trade.

The 10% tariff on aluminium imports Trump announced this month will remain in place, however.

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In response to new US tariffs on aluminum and steel, the two countries negotiated a compromise on steel tariffs.

Similar deals for other countries seeking to escape the tariff are expected.

South Korean steel companies said had wanted a larger quota of tariff-free exports to the United States.

"Despite the touted 10,000 tariff cuts and promises of more exports, more jobs, our deficit nearly doubled in the FTA's first five years as USA agricultural exports declined and a flood of Korean cars were shipped here". However, it has been debarring the duties on confederates like the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

South Korea will not be subject to the broad 25% tariff that Trump has imposed on most other countries.

Seoul on Monday announced a deal to limit exports to the US of South Korean steel, while extending high USA tariffs on any possible South Korean pickup trucks and increasing USA automakers' access to the Korean market.

"Subject to steel, Korea will be subject to hard quote - a hard annual quote", an official said.

Seoul also agreed to include American pharmaceutical manufacturers in its national health programme's premium reimbursement plan. That includes reducing additional tests and getting rid of labeling requirements that, the administration argues, hinder American automakers' ability to sell in South Korea.

For U.S. automakers, South Korea agreed not to reimposing a tariff on cars that Seoul has previously lifted.

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