The Korea Herald


Korea, US reach agreement ‘in principle’: Trade Minister

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : March 25, 2018 - 18:28

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South Korea and the United States have reached an agreement “in principle” on renegotiation of their free trade agreement, said the trade minister who returned from the US on Sunday, signaling that three-month-long talks have come to an end.

The two countries started renegotiating the deal after the Trump administration called for a revision in June last year on the grounds of the nation’s growing trade deficit with Korea.

“As for the trade deal and the US steel tariff issue, we reached an agreement in principle,” Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong told reporters at Incheon Airport on Sunday afternoon. 

Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong (Yonhap) Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong (Yonhap)

The steel tariff was also put on the negotiation table after the Trump administration signed an order to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel early this month.

“But there are some technical issues at the working level and I believe they will be addressed soon,” Kim added.

The trade minister said there are five things the Korean government achieved through the discussion.

“We set a term for Korean companies to stably jump into the US market by eliminating uncertainties beforehand,” Kim said.

As for the agriculture sector, he said the government safeguarded “the red line,” underlining that there would be no more pressure to further open to US agricultural products.

In terms of the mandatory use and origins of automobile parts, the US’ request was not reflected, he said.

During the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, the US had requested the use of 50 percent of US-made parts and a tracing list to identify the origins of automobile parts. The US side reportedly asked for a similar measure from Korea.

He also said the removal of tariffs settled in the previous negotiation stays the same.

When asked whether the government reached a “mutual interest balance,” which was the initial aim of the Korea government, he said, “As we kept negotiating right before I took the plane, more details are to come after the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.”

The government plans to announce the results of the negotiation on Monday at noon after reporting it at the cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday, “We believe we are relatively close to a pretty comprehensive resolution with the South Korean government.”

By Shin Ji-hye (