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(LEAD) U.S. trade chief visits S. Korea for talks on supply chains, trade pact

All News 17:16 November 18, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with Tai's arrival in paras 1-2; CHANGES photo)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Nov. 18 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai arrived in South Korea on Thursday for talks on pending trade issues such as supply chains for key components and steel tariffs.

Tai's four-day visit marked the first time in 11 years that a top U.S. trade official has visited Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The chief plans to meet with South Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo on Friday for the joint committee meeting of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and to have separate talks with Seoul's Labor Minister An Kyung-duk on workers' rights and related trade policy.

On Saturday, she will have a meeting with female leaders from public and private sectors before leaving for India the following day, according to her office.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai arrives at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Nov. 18, 2021, for talks with South Korean officials on pending trade issues, such as supply chains for key components and steel tariffs. (Yonhap)

Key agenda at the Tai-Yeo meeting includes how to boost bilateral cooperation in global supply chains and tariffs on exports of Korean-made steel and aluminum.

Seoul and Washington have agreed to work more closely to ensure the resilience of supply chains for key components, including semiconductors, following a global supply shortage of chips and other major industrial items.

Earlier, the two sides agreed to create a new director-level dialogue channel on semiconductors and hold an inaugural meeting next month.

South Korea has also been pushing to revise the Section 232 tariffs on its steel and aluminum exports to the U.S., after Washington decided to allow duty-free importation of some European steel and aluminum products to the country.

The U.S.-EU deal has sparked concerns over adverse impacts on South Korean exports.

Currently, 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, or 70 percent of Seoul's average steel products export volume over the past three years, in accordance with their 2018 deal.

Tai will "meet with government officials and stakeholders to discuss the enduring U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and to strengthen trade and economic relationships with key allies and partners," the office of the USTR said in a release.

The U.S. is South Korea's second-largest trading partner, and South Korea is the U.S.' sixth largest.

This photo provided by South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy shows Seoul's Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (L) and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai posing for a photo in Italy on Oct. 13, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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