Korea bashing has gone too far

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Korea bashing has gone too far

The United States has been mounting an antidumping campaign on Korean products.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped antidumping and countervailing duties of 38 to 65 percent on Korean cold-rolled steel exports. Earlier, it imposed a maximum antidumping levy of 48 percent on Korean galvanized steel shipments.

This month, it announced up to 111 percent preliminary duties on Korean washing machine brands made in China. It is out to curb direct and indirect exports from Korea.

Korean exports are victimized in trade friction between the United States and China. Korean shipments of washers to the United States amounted to a mere $54 million last year. But it became a target as a warning to Chinese producers. Korean steel exports were included in the antidumping review to justify the record penalty levies of 451 percent to 522 percent on Chinese products.

Worse, the fight has merely begun. U.S. protectionist trade policy will only get stronger. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has also come up with a protectionist trade agenda to better contend against right-wing candidate Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential race. We must also worry about economic retaliation from Beijing over Seoul’s decision to install the U.S.-led antimissile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in Korea.

The government and industries must keep their guard. The government must strive harder against this wave of protectionism on the trade front. The recent Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting in Chengdu, China, issued a joint statement reiterating that the economic powers are “strongly against protectionism.” But we must see to it that the rhetoric is met with action.

Korean companies meanwhile should consider taking manufacturing bases out of China to elsewhere as the trade war between the world’s two largest economies could lengthen.

Seoul should make more diplomatic efforts in Washington to lessen the damage on Korean companies. It must take pre-emptive and persuasive steps, but if that is not enough, strong actions such as referring the matter to international arbitration are needed.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 26, Page 30
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