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(2nd LD) Trump delays auto tariff decision by up to 6 months

All Headlines 05:32 May 18, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with White House press release, other details in last 3 paras)

WASHINGTON, May 17 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday delayed a decision on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and parts by up to six months.

Trump said in a proclamation that he is directing the U.S. trade representative to pursue negotiations on cars imported from the European Union and Japan and any other country deemed necessary in that period.

Trump faced a Saturday deadline to decide whether to go ahead with imposing tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported autos and parts on national security grounds.

He said in the proclamation that he agrees with the findings of the U.S. Commerce Department in February that the current level and circumstances of car imports "threaten to impair ... national security" as defined in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

He also said that he has "considered" the renegotiated South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement but stopped short of exempting South Korea from future tariffs.

An earlier news report had said Trump would exempt South Korea in consideration of the revised bilateral free trade agreement that took effect in January.

Seoul has lobbied hard to win an exemption on the grounds that it made concessions in the auto sector when revising the deal.

The government said earlier Friday that it was working on various steps to cope with the impending announcement on tariffs.

South Korea is concerned that it could suffer a considerable setback if the U.S. imposes tariffs on its cars, as the auto industry accounts for 14 percent of production and 12 percent of employment in the country's manufacturing sector.

In a press release later in the day, the White House noted the benefits from the revised trade deal with South Korea.

"President Trump ... took action to significantly improve the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, securing key improvements to help protect America's automobile industry," it said.

The revision allows U.S. carmakers to double their exports to South Korea and the U.S. to extend tariffs on Korean pickup trucks by 20 years to 2041.

(2nd LD) Trump delays auto tariff decision by up to 6 months - 1

hague@yna.co.kr
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