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S. Korea, U.S. reach deal on trade row: U.S. Treasury chief

All Headlines 05:19 March 26, 2018

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have reached a deal on issues over their free trade agreement and steel tariffs, and expect to sign the deal soon, the top U.S. Treasury official said Sunday.

It will be a "win-win," according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, after months of tough negotiations between the sides.

"I'm pleased to say Ambassador Lighthizer reached a very productive understanding with South Korea, not just these tariffs, but on the KORUS trade agreement overall," Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox News, referring to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "We expect to sign that agreement soon."

On Friday U.S. President Donald Trump also said the two sides were "very close" to a deal. An announcement could come as early as this week, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Seoul and Washington have been in talks to amend their six-year-old free trade agreement, known as KORUS, to address U.S. complaints about a widening trade deficit. The U.S. has especially taken issue with trade in the auto sector.

At the same time Seoul has pushed for an exemption from U.S. tariffs on steel imports, which went into effect Friday. The 25 percent duty on steel and 10 percent duty on aluminum imports were introduced to counter what the Trump administration has called a national security risk.

"There is a quota," Mnuchin said. "So, South Korea will reduce the amount of steel that they send into the United States as part of this. So I think this is an absolute win-win."

The Asian nation was the third largest exporter of steel products to the U.S. last year, and recently won a temporary exemption that is set to expire at the end of April.

This AFP file photo shows U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.


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