Korea, U.S. trade heads meet to discuss supply chains, steel tariffs

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Korea, U.S. trade heads meet to discuss supply chains, steel tariffs

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai speaks during her meeting with Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo at the Silla Hotel in Seoul on Friday. [NEWS1]

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai speaks during her meeting with Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo at the Silla Hotel in Seoul on Friday. [NEWS1]

 
Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai met in Seoul on Friday to discuss supply chains and steel tariffs.
 
“They agreed to strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership on rising trade issues like those regarding the supply chain, technology, digital and climate change, in light of recent changes in the global trade order,” said the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in its statement on Friday. “They also agreed to establish a channel for in-depth discussion and cooperation on these issues, within the Korus FTA system.”
 
The meeting took place in the lead up to the 10th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. FTA in March next year.
 
Tai is the first high-ranking American trade official to visit Korea since the onset of the Joe Biden administration, and the first USTR to visit Korea in 10 years. The last USTR to visit Korea was Ron Kirk, who visited Korea and met with then-President Lee Myung-bak in November 2010.
 
Supply chain resilience has been a topic repeatedly emphasized by the Joe Biden administration in its dealings with South Korea and the Asia Pacific region, including during Biden's meeting with President Moon Jae-in in Washington in May, and also recently during a multilateral meeting on the global supply chain hosted by Biden at the G20 summit in Rome last month. The Biden administration’s goal is to reduce the supply chain reliance on China, especially on key components such as semiconductors.
 
Yeo and Tai also discussed a steel deal between Seoul and Washington that has been in place since 2018.
 
Under the agreement, Korean steel products to the United States have been exempt from the 25 percent tariffs, but in return, Korea was allowed to export to the United States only 70 percent of its production level.
 
What concerns Korea is the new deal between the United States and the European Union on steel tariffs. The two decided to scrap steel tariffs last month, and Korea is worried that this will have a negative impact on its steel exports to the United States. Seoul has been pushing for talks with the United States on the matter.
 
Tai will be in Korea through Sunday, during which time she was also scheduled to met with Minister of Employment and Labor An Kyung-duk. Tai will fly to India on Sunday to continue her Asia tour that began with her visit to Japan earlier this week.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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