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S. Korea mulls option to refer China to WTO for THAAD retaliation: official

All Headlines 16:20 February 07, 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is currently reviewing if China's recent trade actions, taken after Seoul's plans to deploy U.S. missile defense systems on its soil, can be referred to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a high-ranking official said Tuesday.

"As we may happen to need to take legal action in the future, a working-level examination is under way on (the illegality of) all measures taken by the Chinese central and regional governments as well as the private sector following the Seoul deployment decision," the official told reporters.

South Korea announced in July its joint decision with the U.S. to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system before the end of 2017.

The missile intercept system is designed to defend against North Korea's evolving missile capabilities, but China has vehemently protested the decision which it said would compromise Beijing's national interests in the region.

Since mid-2016, China has taken a series of what Seoul considers as retaliatory measures in protest, banning South Korean entertainers from performing in the Chinese market and imposing prohibitively stricter import standards on popular South Korean trade goods, including cosmetics and batteries of electric cars.

South Korea is trying to make the case that the actions taken by the Chinese government constitute unfair retaliation that can be sent to the WTO for arbitration. "It's not an easy process to say exactly what WTO rules are in breach," the official said.

The South Korean government, moreover, is trying to determine which actions taken by Beijing were in retaliation for THAAD or part of a growing discriminatory treatment of foreign companies in general, the official added.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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