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U.S. and Korean officials came to an agreement exempting South Korea from newly announced steel tariffs, but the controversial trade protection has still ruffled some industry feathers stateside.

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong announced the agreement, which amended a six-year pact between the two nations, during a briefing in Seoul. The agreement also extends a 25% tariff on Korean pickup trucks for 20 years, through 2041.

President Donald Trump had signed a Presidential Proclamation imposing the tariffs on aluminum and steel products from certain countries in early March, with the announcement from South Korea following on Monday, March 26. After Trumps' initial decision to impose the tariff, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross released on the President's behalf.

“President Trump is taking action … to protect both our national security and industries critical to our economy. The President’s decision regarding the steel and aluminum Section 232 reports are the result of a long and well-thought-out process led by the Commerce Department,” said Ross. “Once again, President Trump is keeping his promises and standing up for American families, American businesses, and American workers.”

Under the subsequent agreement, South Korea’s carve out calls for it to absorb a quota of 2.68 million tons in steel exports. That represents about 70% of the average South Korean exports to America between 2015 and 2017, according to the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Trump’s decision to tax the metallic imports raised alarm with some trade associations, though. Chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen Sandherr said the new tariffs could put workers at risk. “These new tariffs will cause significant harm to the nation’s construction industry, put tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs at risk, undermine the President’s proposed infrastructure initiative and potentially dampen demand for new construction projects for years to come,” said Sandherr. “That is because the newly-imposed tariffs will lead to increases in what construction firms are forced to pay for the many steel and aluminum products that go into a typical construction project.”

A policy brief from The Trade Partnership, which examined the economic impact of a 25% tariff on imports of steel and 10% on aluminum, claims more than five jobs would be lost for each one gained. Steel and aluminum tariffs would reverberate throughout the U.S. economy in ways that will, on balance, reduce U.S. employment,” according to a policy brief generated by the Trade Partnership.

According to its policy brief, the tariffs would increase iron and steel employment, along with jobs related to other “non-ferrous metals,” such as aluminum, by 33,464 jobs, but ultimately cost 179,334 jobs, yielding a net loss of approximately 146,000 jobs. The brief was generated in early March in anticipation of the executive’s announcement.

“The bottom line is that any short-term gains for the domestic steel and aluminum industries will likely be offset by the lower demand that will come for their products as our economy suffers the impacts of these new tariffs and the trade war they encourage,” said Sandherr. “A better way to cultivate a stronger domestic steel and aluminum industry is to increase federal funding for infrastructure projects that will boost demand for these and many other products.” The full policy brief from The Trade Partnership can be seen here (PDF).

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