Korea strives to buy American

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Korea strives to buy American

The Korean government said it will diversify the sources of its imports of crude oil to include shale gas from the U.S. while increasing purchases of raw materials and transportation-related goods from the U.S.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced changes to its trading policy on Thursday designed to reduce Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. in hopes of avoiding being labeled a currency manipulator by the Donald Trump administration.

The government said it will send government officials as early as possible to the U.S. to strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries, and will import more products such as automobiles, airplanes and semiconductors.

The government added that it will import 2.8 million tons of shale gas from the U.S. through the Korea Gas Corporation this year.

The Finance Ministry expressed confidence that there is a low possibility of Korea being designated a currency manipulator by the new U.S. administration.

“Currency volatility is too big and it is hard for us to cope with the situation right away,” said Yoo Il-ho, Deputy Prime Ministry of Economics and Minister of Strategy and Finance on Thursday after a meeting held at the Central Government Complex in central Seoul. “There are various reasons why the currency fluctuates and we think the value of the U.S. dollar will go up once again if the Federal Reserve decides to raise its key interest rate in the first quarter of this year.

“However, I don’t think the country will be labeled a currency manipulator by the U.S. government according to the current rules and requirements to designate one a manipulator.”

Donald J. Trump started his presidency last week by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and planning to scrap or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

According to the Finance Ministry, Korea’s government will work on signing free trade agreements with Mexico and the U.K. as the global trading paradigm shifts from multilateral agreements to bilateral.

The government has set this year’s goal for exports at $510 billion, up 2.9 percent compared to the previous year. To boost exports, the government will offer 229 trillion won ($198 billion) worth of financial stimulus this year to companies that export goods through public financial institutions. The 229 trillion won is 8 trillion won higher than the previous year’s 221 trillion won.

The Finance Ministry said it will also do its best to attract more than $20 billion in foreign investments this year by deregulating some sectors that limit investment from foreigners.

The Finance Ministry said it will cooperate closely with its Chinese counterparts to strengthen economic ties between the two countries as this year marks the 25th anniversary of normalization of relations between the two.

“China is the biggest trading partner for Korea and we plan to communicate more often with our Chinese counterparts,” said the Finance Ministry.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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