Trump Amends Trade Deal with South Korea; 'This Is a Big Deal'

Melanie Arter | March 28, 2018 | 9:11pm EDT
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump secured a new trade deal with South Korea on Wednesday, making good on a key campaign promise to the American people.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer initiated discussions to amend KORUS, the United States - Korea Free Trade Agreement, in July, setting off multiple rounds of negotiations in 2017 and 2018, the White House noted.

“Since the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, commonly referred to as KORUS, went into effect in 2012, the U.S. trade deficit increased by 70 percent from $6.3 billion to $10.7 billion,”  White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

“Through negotiations to improve KORUS, the U.S. trade representative has secured changes that will reduce the trade deficit and ensure that KORUS is a good deal for the prosperity and the security of the American people,” she said.

“This is a big deal for the American automotive industry. It’s a big deal for our parts manufacturers. It’s a big deal for our pharmaceutical companies, and ultimately, it’s a big deal and a major win for American workers and American businesses,” Sanders said.

The changes that Lighthizer secured to KORUS will protect jobs in the U.S. auto industry and increase U.S. exports, according to the White House. The deal will double the annual number of U.S. automobiles from 25,000 to 50,000 per manufacturer per year that can enter the South Korean market using U.S. safety standards.

U.S. automobiles will be able to meet South Korean emissions standards based on U.S. emissions tests, thereby avoiding additional or duplicative testing.

In addition, “South Korea will expand the number of ‘eco-credits’ available for U.S. automakers to meet South Korean emissions standards,” the White House said. Furthermore, “South Korea will extend the phase out of the 25 percent U.S. tariff on truck until 2041, well beyond the current phase out date of 2021.”

The deal doesn’t just affect the automotive industry.

South Korea “agreed to address issues with onerous and costly customs procedures that have hindered U.S. exports. It also “agreed to change its pharmaceutical reimbursement policy for innovative drugs to give fair treatment for U.S. exports by the end of this year, consistent with its KORUS obligations.”

Outside of KORUS, the United States secured a deal on steel imports with South Korea.

“South Korean steel imports into the United States will be limited to a product-specific quota equal to 70% of that country’s average annual import volume from 2015 through 2017,” the White House said.

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