South Korea said on Monday that it had won an exemption from United States steel tariffs after the two countries agreed to amend their free-trade deal.
The agreement in principle came amid a flurry of exemptions and revisions to the steel and aluminum tariffs announced by the White House this month. The proposed protections prompted unease in financial markets and in foreign capitals, but their impact is now in question. Most major American trading partners have been granted exemptions, at least temporarily, meaning the upside for domestic producers in the United States could be limited.
In the case of South Korea, the country was the third-biggest exporter of steel to the United States in 2016, after Canada and the European Union. Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said last week that those three trading partners, along with Argentina, Australia and Brazil, would receive an initial reprieve from the tariffs.
In a statement published on Monday, the South Korean Trade Ministry said it had agreed to adhere to a quota of 2.68 million tons of steel exports to the United States a year, which it said was roughly equivalent to 70 percent of its annual average sale to the United States from 2015 to 2017. In return, the ministry said, it would be exempt from the tariffs.
Kim Hyun-chong, South Korea’s trade minister, also told journalists on Monday that there would be no further opening of his country’s agricultural markets, and no changes to tariffs that had already been lifted.