S. Korea hopes to discuss American tariffs on steel imports at FTA negotiations

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-03-09 09:12 Updated : 2018-03-09 11:06
글씨작게 글씨크게

[EPA/Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- South Korea's trade minister said Friday that U.S. tariffs on steel imports would be put to the negotiating table at talks this month between the two countries on revising a free trade agreement.

"We intend to negotiate with the United States in a way that minimizes the damage," Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu told a business forum in Seoul, referring to a new round to FTA negotiations to be held this month.

President Donald Trump signed two proclamations -- one for steel and another for a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. The tariffs will take effect in 15 days.

At a separate meeting of government officials and steel company representatives, the minister expressed regret at American tariffs and vowed to consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

For a long-term solution, Paik urged steel companies to focus on developing new metal materials through structural reform. "In the long run, we will promote the development of metal materials for the structural transformation of our steel industry and help companies enhance self-sufficiency by using incentives."

South Korea was the third largest exporter of steel products to the United States last year, after Canada and Brazil, with 3.54 million tons in 2017. The United States has already slapped anti-dumping and countervailing tariffs on 88 percent of South Korean steel products.

Data from the Korea International Trade Association showed that new American tariffs would affect 73.6 percent, or 2.79 billion dollars, of South Korea's total annual steel exports to the United States.

Posco, the country's largest steel company, is subject to import duties of 66.04 percent and 62.57 percent on its cold-rolled steel sheets and hot-rolled steel sheets, respectively.