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US, South Korea reach agreement on trade, steel tariffs

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US, South Korea reach agreement on trade, steel tariffs

The U.S. and South Korea have reached an agreement to renegotiate a six-year-old bilateral trade deal and U.S. tariffs on imported steel, Bloomberg News reported March 25, citing U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reached "a very productive understanding" with the Asian country on the tariffs to cut imports and the trade deal known as Korus. "South Korea will reduce the amount of steel that they send into the U.S. as a part of this," Mnuchin said.

Kim Hyun-chong, South Korea's trade minister, confirmed that the two countries have "reached an agreement in principle" on the trade deal and the U.S. steel tariff issue, The Korea Herald reported separately. Seoul is planning to announce the results of the negotiation March 26.

Kim added that South Korea did not make concessions to further open its agricultural market to U.S. exporters, which he described as a "red line."

In terms of the mandatory use and origins of automobile parts, the U.S.' request was not reflected and the removal of tariffs settled in the previous negotiation stays the same, Kim said. During a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, the U.S. had requested the use of 50% of U.S.-made parts and a list to trace the origins of car parts. The U.S. reportedly asked for a similar measure from South Korea.

South Korea's trade surplus with the U.S. declined to $18 billion in 2017 from $23 billion in 2016, Bloomberg noted, citing the Korea International Trade Association. Cars accounted for more than 70% of the value of the surplus.