More on the US-Korea PTA revisions

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Timely analysis of the modifications to the US-Korea trade deal (pdf) from the Peterson Institute’s Jeff Schott:

In economic terms, the overall impact of the new deal differs little from the old deal. Changes in the tariff schedules reduce the overall benefits of the trade pact but not by very much. Immediate tariff cuts on autos and light trucks have been deferred a few years, but changes in Korea’s regulatory policies and procedures on autos should help mitigate existing problems and preclude the introduction of new nontariff barriers to US exports to Korea…

Under the new agreement the US car tariff, currently 2.5 percent, will be maintained for four years (i.e., until January 2016) and then eliminated. In turn, Korea slowed its own tariff reform… In addition, the US tariff on light trucks, which has been 25 percent since the infamous 1963 US-Europe chicken war, will be maintained for seven years (until 2019) and then phased out over the next three years. Originally, the light truck tariff was to be phased out in 10 equal annual increments…

Do these changes in tariff reforms make much of a difference? Probably not—and definitely not if the Doha Round agreement concludes and begins to cut most-favored nation (MFN) tariffs starting in January 2013, the likely start date if a WTO deal is reached by early 2012… US light truck tariffs would be phased down from 25 percent to 6.1 percent in 2019. So for light trucks, the US MFN tariff would be lower than the KORUS preferential tariff beginning in January 2014.

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