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S. Korea's industry minister to visit U.S. for talks on chips, steel tariffs

All News 22:23 November 04, 2021

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook will visit the United States next week to discuss semiconductor supply chains, steel tariffs and other pending issues, his office said Thursday.

Moon is scheduled to head to the U.S. on Tuesday for a three-day stay, during which he plans to meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, according to Seoul's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Chip supply chains are expected to be one of their key agenda items, as the meetings are to take place right after the Nov. 8 deadline by which the U.S. asked major chipmakers and auomakers to share business information to address the global semiconductor shortage.

Industry sources said South Korea's top two chipmakers -- Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. -- have been preparing answers to the request, which was made following President Joe Biden's executive order to secure and strengthen America's supply chains for key products.

Washington's request for the information has sparked concerns over the possible leak of what chipmakers consider major trade secrets.

"The minister is expected to explain those data and related circumstances to the U.S. side, and to discuss ways to boost bilateral cooperation to help resolve the chips crisis," a ministry official said.

A parking lot of Kia Motors Corp.'s plant in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, is almost empty on Nov. 2, 2021. South Korean carmakers' local and overseas sales dropped for the fourth consecutive month in October amid the supply shortage of semiconductors. (Yonhap)

Also on the table will be steel tariffs, which have been a source of concern among relevant businesses recently following last week's trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union. The agreement calls for ending a 25 percent tariff by the U.S. on steel imports from the EU and 10 percent on aluminum.

The deal is feared to have adverse impacts on South Korea's exports of steel and aluminium products, as it is likely to boost the volume of EU's steel imports to the U.S.

"We will push for swift consultations with the U.S. to review and revise Section 232 rules on our steel and aluminum products," the official said.

Under a 2018 deal between Seoul and Washington, the U.S. waives a 25 percent tariff on South Korean steel imports in return for a yearly import quota of 2.63 million tons for Korean steel products, or 70 percent of Seoul's average export volume over the past three years.

This photo, provided by POSCO on July 24, 2021, shows a steel factory in the southeastern city of Pohang. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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