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S. Korea calls for EU to minimize trade barriers amid pandemic

All News 11:00 May 07, 2020

SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Thursday requested the European Union to consider relaxing trade barriers to further revitalize the global supply chains that have been disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee held a videoconference with her EU counterpart Phil Hogan to discuss a wide array of trade-related issues between the two partners, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

"We hope that the free trade deal between South Korea and the EU, which has been propping up the economic cooperation of the two partners, will also help in promoting trade and investment amid the COVID-19 crisis," Yoo said.

Yoo expressed concerns that a safeguard measure currently put in force by the EU on South Korean steel products may lead to the further expansion of protectionism around the globe, requesting the world's single largest economic bloc to make efforts to minimize hurdles against free trade.

S. Korea calls for EU to minimize trade barriers amid pandemic - 1

The EU has been charging a 25 percent duty on imported steel products in excess of its quotas since February 2019. The tariff will be in place until June next year.

The decision by the EU came amid concerns that protectionism by the United States may induce steelmakers to look to the European market as an alternative.

The EU was the third-largest trade partner of South Korea in 2019 with the volume reaching US$108.6 billion.

South Korea also suggested that the two parties should hold a dialogue on setting standards for the so-called digital-based economy, amid the rising presence of online business activities due to the pandemic.

Yoo stressed that South Korea is willing to share its experiences of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with other nations as well.

A day earlier, South Korea reported just two more cases of the new coronavirus, all of which are imported cases, marking no local new infections for the third consecutive day amid relaxed social distancing.

The country had been one of the major victims of the pandemic, with its new daily infections peaking at more than 900 in late February.


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