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U.S. not looking to renegotiate Trump-era steel quotas with South Korea, says Raimondo

Randy Mancini 12 Mar 23
FILE PHOTO: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Testifies before Senate Appropriations Committee
FILE PHOTO: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., February 1, 2022. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

March 23, 2022

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has no plans to renegotiate a quota agreement forged by South Korea and the former Trump administration, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday, a day after agreeing to cut tariffs on British steel and aluminum.

“They kind of struck their own deal in the last administration, with a quota arrangement, so renegotiating that is not a high priority for us now,” Raimondo told Reuters in an interview.

South Korean officials have pushed for consultations with Washington after the United States struck deals with the European Union and Japan to roll back tariffs on steel and aluminum. On Wednesday, it struck a similar deal with Britain.

But in 2018, shortly after former President Donald Trump imposed the ‘Section 232’ tariffs of 25% on imported steel, his administration agreed to grant Seoul an annual duty-free annual steel quota of up to 2.68 million metric tons as part of a deal to revise the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

The South Korean quota was based on 70% of South Korea’s 2015-2017 average steel exports to the United States.

Raimondo said the United States had a strong relationship with South Korea and lauded its participation in concerted export controls on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“They’ve been terrific partners with working with us to deny Russia semiconductors,” she said. “Our relationship with Korea is very strong, and we definitely want to continue to lean into that.”

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)