US says could deal with S. Korea next week on steel tariffs


Washington (AFP)

A deal with South Korea resolving differences over steel and aluminum tariffs and revising the bilateral trade pact with the United States could be announced next week, US officials said Friday.

President Donald Trump said the two sides are "very close" to finalizing the updated pact known as KORUS "and we're going to have a wonderful deal with a wonderful ally."

The Trump administration in July convened talks to renegotiate the treaty, arguing the 2012 deal was lopsided because the US trade deficit ballooned since it was signed.

"It was a deal that was causing a lot of problems for our country," Trump said at a ceremony where he signed a new budget agreement.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Washington and Seoul also are nearing agreement on the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump recently imposed.

South Korea is one of seven economies temporarily exempt from the duties that went into effect Friday and were primarily aimed at overproduction by China.

"We believe we are relatively close to a pretty comprehensive resolution with the South Korean government," Ross said at the White House.

That includes the metals tariffs "and broader trade issues," he said.

"We hope sometime next week to have a real announcement."

Despite fears of a tit-for-tat trade war that has sent global markets tumbling, Trump said many countries are now coming to the table to negotiate "fair" trade deals with the United States.

The US trade deficit with South Korea actually has declined since 2014, to $10.3 billion last year.