Korea isn’t target of auto tariffs: Trade minister

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Korea isn’t target of auto tariffs: Trade minister

Korea is not the main target of the proposed U.S. tariffs on foreign vehicles, as the country made concessions in the auto sector in the recently revised free trade agreement (FTA), Seoul’s trade minister said Tuesday.

Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said the Seoul government has been making all-out efforts to get an exemption from the 25 percent duties on foreign autos proposed by the Donald Trump administration on national security grounds.

“Rather than Korea, I think [the U.S. auto tariffs] mainly target other auto manufacturing countries, such as Mexico, Canada, Japan and the European Union,” Kim said during a parliamentary committee meeting.

“We are making our best efforts to get relief from the U.S. auto tariffs.”

As lawmakers pointed out that any tariffs under Section 232 could hamper the ratification process of the revised trade deal, Kim said that Asia’s fourth-largest economy will get exemptions as it has “already resolved auto issues in the Korus FTA negotiations.”

Kim said the two nations will formally sign the amended FTA in September as the U.S. government completed a 60-day consultation period with Congress on Aug. 13.

In Korea, a trade deal needs parliamentary approval for it to go into force.

Korean-made autos are currently exempt from U.S. duties under the bilateral trade pact implemented in 2012.

Seoul accepted Washington’s demands in regard to auto market access in the recently revised open trade pact.

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