ULSAN, June 13 (Yonhap) -- The government is working to help local petrochemical companies that are facing difficulties in the wake of U.S sanctions on Iran and the growing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, the finance minister said Thursday.
Last year, Washington imposed the most biting sanctions ever on Iran following its exit from a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and five major world powers.
In May, the U.S. ended its sanctions waivers for South Korea, China, India and five other countries for Iranian oil imports, prompting Seoul to diversify its sources of oil imports.
South Korean exporters are facing difficulties as they have stopped their exports to Iran due to the U.S. sanctions on the Mideast country.
"The petrochemical sector is very important for the economy, and we are working to address their difficulties," Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, said during a meeting with officials from SK Innovation Co. and other smaller rivals.
The industry called for the government's support to keep the companies' competitiveness, noting the country's petrochemical complex is in urgent need of improved infrastructure, industrial water and power.
South Korea's petrochemical industry accounts for 6.1 percent of production in the country's manufacturing sector and makes up 8.3 percent of exports.
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