Mar 28, 2018

U.S. claims tentative deal on Korea trade deal talks

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In in 2017. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je / AFP / Getty Images

Senior administration officials said on Tuesday that the Trump administration has reached "an agreement of principle" with South Korea regarding the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

Why it matters, per the New York Times: "Mr. Trump used his threat of stiff steel and aluminum tariffs as a cudgel to extract the concessions he wanted, helping produce an agreement that had stalled amid disagreements this year."

More from the Times: "The deal, which could be formally announced on Wednesday, opens the South’s market to American autos by lifting existing limits on manufacturers like Ford Motor and General Motors, extends tariffs for South Korean truck exports and restricts, by nearly a third, the amount of steel that the South can export to the United States.

"An agreement of principle" essentially means that both sides have agreed to the broad principle of a deal, but haven't worked the technical details out yet. An administration official said when finalized, it will "be the first successful renegotiation of any trade agreement in U.S. history."

What the agreement includes, as of now:

  • South Korea will be subject to a "hard annual quota" on steel products, as an alternative to the steel tariffs. The official said this will be "a product-specific quota, equivalent to 70% of the average annual export volume for steel products." The official added that this will result in around a 30% reduction in steel shipments from Korea to the U.S.
  • A currency agreement, which will "prohibit competitive devaluation of currency, and ensure that there are commitments on transparency and accountability."
  • Improving implementation issues, such as how South Korea "conducts its inspections at the border," and including U.S. companies in their reimbursement policy for innovative drugs.
  • The 25% U.S. tariffs on pick-up trucks will be extended to 2041. The official called this a "big win for our U.S. truck producers and workers."
  • "Eliminating burdensome regulations," like different environmental standards. The official said Korea will align "their environmental standards with the U.S.," for both vehicles and auto parts.
  • Doubling the cap on auto exports, which originally allowed for 25,000 vehicle exports per year, per manufacturer, the administration official said, for vehicles "built to U.S. safety standards."

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.6 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,900 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,498,849 — Total deaths: 346,306 — Total recoveries — 2,233,180Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,662,768 — Total deaths: 98,223 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

LATAM Airlines files for U.S. chapter 11 bankruptcy

A LATAM air attendant aboard one of the company's planes in March. Photo: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

LATAM Airlines Group SA said in a statement early Tuesday the firm and its affiliates in in the United States, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Why it matters: Latam is Latin America's largest airline and its shareholders include Delta Air Lines. CEO Roberto Alvo noted in the statement the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry.