U.S. should not tariff our autos: trade minister

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U.S. should not tariff our autos: trade minister

Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee argued that Korea should be exempt from any new U.S. car tariffs, citing the existing FTA between the two countries.

Korea is currently awaiting a decision on the tariffs after U.S. President Donald Trump invoked section 232 of U.S. trade laws in May to introduce tariffs of up to 25 percent on vehicles and auto-part imports, citing threats to national security.

“We have successfully signed an amended FTA, and considering that we have carried out the agreement, Korea should not be considered part of section 232,” said Yoo during a press meeting at the Government Complex in Sejong on Monday.

The United States is expected to make an announcement on the tariffs this week.

Yoo explained that she had argued against the tariffs to U.S. officials during her visit to the country last month, but she added that she was uncertain of the final decision.

“The United States highly rates the amended FTA and the beneficial trade and investment between the two countries,” said the trade minister. “However, the final decision lies with President Trump.”

The trade minister also addressed disappointment regarding the agreement reached between 15 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member countries earlier this month to finalize the free trade deal next year.

India decided to opt out.

“India’s concerns, such as a trade deficit, were not entirely resolved,” explained Yoo. “However, member countries agreed to work on India’s concerns, so the door remains open for India.”

Yoo added that the RCEP will not attract ire from the United States, rejecting that it is a China-led trade deal.

She also explained that Korea has exchanged proposals on tariffs with Japan through the RCEP, while adding that sensitive products will remain protected.

The two countries have been locked in a trade dispute since July, which has escalated to the settlement process at the World Trade Organization.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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