The world’s seven-decade-long free trade order has been seemingly upended following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent announcement of stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The United States and the European Union have taken turns since then in declaring sanctions, first on steel and aluminum imports by the United States, and the European Union’s retaliatory tariffs on 100 U.S. goods, to be swiftly responded by Trump’s threat of imposing a tax on EU cars.
Some warn against a possibility that the global economy would face a crisis similar with that of the Great Depression in the 1930s, as countries around the world, especially the European Union, China and Canada, may decide to take protectionist measures to protect their own industries and workers, shrinking the global economy as a result. Such developments will strike a fatal blow particularly to South Korea, whose economy is highly dependent on exports, some voice their concern.
In retaliation to new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the European Union is reportedly considering stiff tariffs on U.S. goods including steel as well as farm goods such as rice, corn and orange juice. The full list is scheduled to be announced on Monday. A European Commission spokesperson said that the European Union is considering retaliatory tariffs, roughly one third of which would target steel, one third agriculture, and one third other products. The New York Times analyzed that the European Union’s additional 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S goods would incur the damage of a comparable size suffered by the European Union’s steel and aluminum industries due to the U.S. tariffs.
The South Korean government is planning to continue to mobilize all its diplomatic resources to be exempted from the new U.S. tariffs before President Trump signs into law the measure. The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Friday that it would make active outreach efforts with the United States before the U.S. government reaches a final decision.
A source familiar with the matter also said that Kim Hyun-jong, South Korea’s trade minister who visited Washington last week for lobbying activities, will revisit Washington on Tuesday to discuss steel tariffs and the South Korea-U.S. FTA negotiation.
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