On September 24, 2018, President Trump and President Moon signed a document “pledging that our countries will take the additional necessary steps to implement the new United States-Korea trade agreement” at the United Nations in New York. Although President Trump referred to “the new United States Korea trade agreement,” President Moon referred to “amendments and modifications to improve the existing agreement.” The actual document signed was short:
JOINT STATEMENT ON THE UNITED STATES-KOREA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
We, the Presidents of the United States of America and the Republic of Korea, hereby reaffirm our close alliance and the importance of maintaining strong, mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between our peoples.
We welcome the successful conclusion of negotiations between our governments that have resulted in amendments and modifications to improve the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
With today’s signing of our newly concluded agreement, we pledge to direct our officials to move forward with additional steps, as required in our respective countries, to bring the updated agreement into force as soon as practicable.
We furthermore welcome this achievement as tangible evidence of the strength of the relationship between our two countries.
DONALD J. TRUMP MOON JAE-IN
President of the United States of America President of the Republic of Korea
September 24, 2018
New York, New York
United States of America
The Office of the US Trade Representative announced the following negotiated outcomes for the US-Korea FTA (KORUS):
- U.S. Truck Tariffs: Korea will extend the phase out of the 25% U.S. tariff on trucks until 2041, or a total of 30 years following the implementation of the KORUS FTA in 2012. (currently scheduled to phase out by 2021).
- Growing U.S. Auto Exports: Exports of U.S. motor vehicles to Korea will be improved through the following steps:
- Greater Access for U.S. Exports: Korea will double the number of U.S. automobile exports, to 50,000 cars per manufacturer per year that can meet U.S. safety standards (in lieu of Korean standards) and enter the Korean market without further modification.
- Harmonization of Testing Requirements: U.S. gasoline engine vehicle exports will be able to show compliance with Korea’s emission standards using the same tests they conduct to show compliance with U.S. regulations, without additional or duplicative testing for the Korean market.
- Recognition of U.S. Standards for Auto Parts: Korea will recognize U.S. standards for auto parts necessary to service U.S. vehicles, and reduce labeling burdens for parts.
- Improvements to CAFE Standards: Korea will expand the amount of “eco-credits” available to help meet fuel economy and greenhouse gas requirements under the regulations currently in force, while also ensuring that fuel economy targets in future regulations will be set taking U.S. regulations into account and will continue to include more lenient targets for manufacturers that sell small volumes of cars in Korea.
- Customs Improvement: Korea will address long-standing concerns with onerous and costly verification procedures through agreement on principles for conducting verification of origin of exports under KORUS and establish a working group to monitor and address future issues that arise.
- Pharmaceutical Reimbursements: Within 2018, Korea will amend its Premium Pricing Policy for Global Innovative Drugs to make it consistent with Korea’s commitments under KORUS to ensure non-discriminatory and fair treatment for U.S. pharmaceutical exports.
See Fact Sheet here. It should be noted that the modifications and amendments to KORUS were reached in March 2018 and do not appear to have changed since then. (See Outcomes announced in March here). The September 24 announcement seems to indicate that the legal texts and Administration approvals have now been completed. For the United States, modifications to the U.S. tariff schedule will undergo consultation and layover procedures provided under the implementing act for the KORUS Agreement, which include a 60-day consultation period with Congress. Separate agreements (outside of KORUS) on currency manipulation and exemptions from sec. 232 steel tariff were also reached.