Trade Minister urges U.S. to start talks on steel import restrictions

Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (left) met with US Trade Representative Katherine Chi Tai at a meeting in Italy on October 13 (MOTIE)

Commerce Minister Yeo Han-koo said on Monday he called on the United States to start talks over revising restrictions on steel imports from South Korea during last week’s meeting with its American counterpart.

“As the United States recently concluded an agreement or started negotiations with the European Union and Japan, we have made it clear (to the United States) that they should start talks with South Korea, their ally that competes with the EU and Japan in the US market, ”Yeo said at a press briefing.

“The American steel industry is known to be sensitive to this issue, but as the demand in the United States for high-end Korean steel products is high and the investments of South Korean manufacturers in the United States are increasing sharply, we again asked for a quick start. negotiations to resolve the Section 232 issue. Section 232 of the United States Trade Expansion Act allows the United States President to impose import restrictions based on an investigation and determination positive response from the US Department of Commerce that certain imports threaten to endanger national security.

South Korea has been pushing for talks to remove U.S. Section 232 restrictions on its steel and aluminum exports to the United States after Washington decided to allow the import into duty-free of certain European steel and aluminum products.

The United States decided last month to lift import tariffs of 25% on European steel and 10% on aluminum imposed by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. Tariffs will be lifted from now on. January 1.

As part of a 2018 deal, the United States is currently waiving a 25% tariff on South Korean steel imports in exchange for limiting Korea’s annual steel exports to the states. -United to 70% of its average steel export volume over the past three years.

Yeo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai held a meeting of the bilateral free trade agreement joint committee in Seoul on Friday.

Yeo said he pointed out to Tai that a US congressional bill offering incentives for electric cars may discriminate against foreign companies.

The minister said he has also repeatedly expressed Seoul’s concerns about the recent US Commerce Department’s request for trade data from South Korean chipmakers, and that he wishes such actions would not happen again. .

The two sides agreed on Friday to set up new channels of dialogue for better cooperation on supply chains and other trade issues such as new technologies, digital, labor and the environment.

By Kim So-hyun ([email protected])

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