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South Korea may be exempted from Trump’s steel tariff

Posted March. 20, 2018 08:07,   

Updated March. 20, 2018 08:07


South Korea’s Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu said Monday that there would be a good result within this week if we wait for the outcomes of negotiations, raising hope for the country’s possible exemption from Donald Trump’s tariff on imported steel and aluminum. “We are working hard to get an exemption,” Paik told reporters.

It is particularly worthy of note that such remarks came from a senior official engaging in the ongoing negotiations to counter Trump’s 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum, which will go into effect on Friday. Other U.S. trading partners including Canada, Mexico and Australia have already secured exemptions from the tariff. Paik’s mentioning of “a good result” is widely observed as Washington’s giving a waiver to Seoul, one of the U.S.’s close allies.

Chances are high that steel tariff exemption will be intertwined with the negotiations for the revision of the bilateral free trade agreement. South Korea’s Trade Ministry said that the two sides have made substantial progress on key issues through intensive discussions in the third round of talks to revise the trade agreement last week in Washington, adding that the negotiation for the steel tariffs are underway simultaneously.

The South Korean government plans to make an all-out effort to be excluded from the tariffs before they take effect. South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong and trade officials have been in Washington for the tariff negotiations after the third round of talks for FTA revision finished. Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon will also meet with his U.S. counterpart Steven Mnuchin to ask for a tariff waiver in the upcoming G-20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Monday.

Hye-Ryung Choi herstory@donga.com