Korean, U.S. trade chiefs discuss new economic framework, steel tariffs

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) — Senior trade officials from South Korea and the United States on Thursday discussed the new economic framework proposed by the United States in the Indo-Pacific region and key trade issues, including digital trade and Trump-era steel tariffs, the Department of Industry said.

South Korean Commerce Minister Yeo Han-koo and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai held a conference call earlier today and discussed the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which the Biden’s administration has sought to launch in Asia amid heightened Sino-US rivalry.

This framework calls for deeper cooperation with partner nations on a wide range of economic and trade issues, including digital trade, supply chains and clean energy, and the United States is seeking the participation of the South Korea.

The meeting was the sixth between Yeo and Tai since Biden announced the IPEF roadmap in October last year.

“South Korea has continued discussions on the IPEF among relevant ministries and with civilian experts through a working group. We welcome this initiative at a time when cooperation is needed in the region, which is a key economic axis of the global economy,” Yeo was quoted by the ministry as saying.

The United States wants a new economic framework, although major Asian nations have joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The CPTPP was launched in 2018 after Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the previous year. The partnership has 11 members, including Australia and Japan. South Korea is trying to join and China has applied.

During Thursday’s meeting, Yeo reiterated his call for the United States to quickly launch bilateral negotiations to revise the Section 232 tariff rules on Seoul’s steel exports.

Despite Seoul’s repeated call for discussions on a possible revision, the United States has not budged on the subject.

Tai told reporters earlier this month that South Korea “is actually already in a better position than many others.”

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also said recently that renegotiation was not a high priority for the United States, according to Reuters.

In 2018, Donald Trump’s government waived tariffs on South Korean steel products, in exchange for an annual import quota of 2.63 million tonnes of steel, or 70% of the volume. average of Seoul’s steel product exports over the past three years.

In February, the United States and Japan announced their agreement to remove tariffs on Japanese steel imports from April, after Washington granted similar access to steel producers in the Union. European at the end of last year.

The United States also signed a similar steel deal with Britain this month.

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