U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to impose 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs respectively on imported steel and aluminum products on Thursday (local time). With the entire world facing a trade war triggered by Trump, Korea’s steel export to the United States is also poised to take a hit.
Surrounded by U.S. steel workers and his economic officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the White House, President Trump signed the executive order based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act on the day. Canada and Mexico, which are renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States, have been exempt from the measure.
As if targeting Korea and the European Union, President Trump said at the signing event that American industry has been destroyed by foreign countries’ aggressive trade practices, and that many of the countries that have ill-treated the United States were its allies.
The executive order will take effect from March 23, 15 days after the signing. However, President Trump said if and when export to the United States posing threat to the country is addressed, Washington can hold negotiations for exemption, thus leaving open the possibility that he could exempt additional countries from the tariffs.
The Korean government has decided to make all-out efforts to secure “country exemption” or “exception of certain products” from the tariffs. Seoul plans to offer alternative options to Washington to secure tariff exemption, while considering collaboration with other major countries to file a suit against the United States with the World Trade Organization.
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