S. Korean trade chief meets U.S. envoy over IPEF, steel tariffs

SEOUL-- South Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo met with U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Christopher Del Corso on Tuesday and discussed the U.S.-led new economic initiative and such key trade issues as steel tariffs, Seoul's trade ministry said.

During the meeting in Seoul, Yeo told Del Corso that South Korea welcomed Washington's plan to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) at a time when enhanced regional cooperation is needed for a global economic recovery in the post-pandemic era.

South Korea has had active consultations with countries in the region about the issue, as well as with related domestic entities and private sectors, Yeo added.

The Seoul government has said it is positively reviewing joining the agreement, which the Joe Biden administration has sought to launch for deeper cooperation with partner nations in the Asian region on digital trade, supply chains and other major emerging trade issues amid an intensifying Sino-U.S. rivalry.

Yeo also asked for the U.S. envoy's interest in and support for the possible revision of the U.S.' Section 232 tariff rules.

South Korea has sought to begin negotiations to revise the 2018 rules, under which the Donald Trump government waived the tariffs on South Korean steel products in return for a yearly import quota of 2.63 million tons of steel, or 70 percent of Seoul's average steel products export volume over the past three years.

Washington wrapped up negotiations on the tariff issue with the European Union, Japan and Britain this year, but it has maintained a negative stance on beginning talks with South Korea.

"The two sides shared the notion that the bilateral economic ties have strengthened in such major industry items as chips and batteries based upon the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), and they can further contribute to creating chances and achievements of economic cooperation in the region," the ministry said in a release.

Ten years after the Korea-U.S. FTA, bilateral trade spiked nearly 70 percent to US$169.1 billion last year from $100.8 billion in 2011, according to the government data.

Source: Yonhap News Agency