SEOUL—South Korea is threatening to block a revised free-trade agreement with the U.S. unless its cars win an exemption from proposed American tariffs, putting at risk the only free-trade deal the Trump administration has successfully renegotiated.
The renewed economic tension between the two military allies comes four and a half months after they said they had agreed in principle on a revision to their six-year-old free-trade agreement. President Donald Trump, who described the original agreement as a “horror show,” said in a tweet the revision was a “great deal.”
The revised terms focused on reducing the U.S. trade deficit, allowing the U.S. to keep its 25% import tariff on South Korean pickup trucks in place for 20 more years—through 2041—and easing Seoul’s safety rules to help American cars get better access to the South Korean market. South Korea also agreed to a quota on steel exports to the U.S. that capped them at 70% of its annual average for the past three years.