U.S. reaches trade deal with South Korea

The agreement focuses on the auto industry. U.S. officials say it will create tens of thousands of job domestically

Published December 3, 2010 8:04PM (EST)

The U.S. and South Korea have reached an agreement on a free trade deal sought by the Obama administration to boost American exports and create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.

A person familiar with the discussions says negotiators reached a deal on outstanding issues related to the automobile industry. South Korea is agreeing to allow the U.S. to lift a 2.5 percent tariff on Korean cars in five years, instead of cutting the tariff immediately. The person spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of an official White House announcement.

The agreement also allows each U.S. automaker to export 25,000 cars to South Korea as long as they meet U.S. federal safety standards.

The U.S. had hoped to reach an agreement last month when President Barack Obama was in Seoul, but negotiators were unable to resolve outstanding issues.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and South Korea are reporting progress in the latest round of their trade talks but they stopped short of announcing an agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said leaders of both countries had to review this progress before moving forward.

Kirk issued a statement Friday after meeting with his counterpart Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon.

The South Korean Embassy said talks between Kim and Kirk reached a substantial outcome on autos and other areas and they would announce results after consulting with their governments. U.S. auto sales in South Korea have been a sticking point in the talks.

President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak failed to reach a trade deal when they met last month in Seoul.

By Ken Thomas

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