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(LEAD) S. Korea calls for swift negotiations to revise Trump-era steel tariffs

All News 15:05 November 19, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details, remarks in paras 11-13; CHANGES photo)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top trade official called on the United States on Friday to launch negotiations swiftly to revise the Section 232 tariff rules on Seoul's steel exports.

South Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo made the request to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai during in a joint committee meeting of the bilateral free trade agreement.

It is the first time in 11 years that a U.S. top trade official has visited South Korea. She arrived in Seoul on Thursday for a four-day visit that includes a meeting with the labor minister.

South Korea's Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (L) and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai shake hands ahead of their meeting in Seoul on Nov. 19, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea's Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (L) and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai shake hands ahead of their meeting in Seoul on Nov. 19, 2021. (Yonhap)

"We once again delivered our stance and concerns regarding the Section 232 rules, and demanded that the two sides begin negotiations at an early date," Seoul's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release.

South Korea has been pushing for the revision of the Section 232 tariff rules.

The U.S. decided in October to lift import tariffs of 25 percent on European steel and 10 percent on aluminum imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018. The lifting is set to take effect on Jan. 1.

In 2018, the U.S. waived the tariffs on South Korean products, but it was in return for a yearly import quota of 2.63 million tons of steel, or 70 percent of Seoul's average steel products export volume over the past three years.

During Friday's meeting, Yeo and Tai agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership in various new fields such as supply chains and climate change.

"For the goal, the two sides discussed the establishment of a new channel for in-depth consultations and cooperation," the ministry said.

They also discussed major issues of mutual concern, including digital markets, new technologies in agricultural sectors, a certificate of origin and visa.

In addition, they assessed the achievements of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, also called KORUS, which came into force in March 2012.

"Korea is one of our most valued trading partners and one of our closest allies. The KORUS actually continues to be both a reflection of that close relationship and the foundation upon which we can build to make it even closer and more cooperative," Tai said in her opening remarks.

"We are using our KORUS foundation to discuss how we can tackle major issues and challenges that we're facing today, such as supply chain resilience, worker rights and environmental protection," she added.

Trade volume between the two nations grew around 26 percent to US$131.6 billion since March 2002 when the free trade deal took effect.


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