LAST_UPDATESun, 18 Mar 2018 11am

S Korean President Wants Resolute Measures Against US Protectionist Moves

Moon Jae-inMoon Jae-in

SEOUL -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday instructed goverment officials to take confident and resolute measures against US protectionist moves in bilateral trade, reported China's Xinhua news agency.

"We must take confident and resolute measures such as filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and review whether (the US action) it violates the S. Korea-US free trade agreement (FTA)," he said during a weekly meeting with senior secretaries, according to the Blue House.

He also ordered officials to point out the unfairness of the US safeguards against South Korean products in negotiations with the US, and to revise the S Korea-US free trade pact.

The bilateral FTA, which took effect in 2012, has been under negotiations with a view for amendment, since US President Donald Trump called it a "horrible" deal.

Moon's remarks came after the US Ministry of Commerce announced plans last week to impose import tariffs of up to 53 percent on steel and aluminum products from some countries, including South Korea. The US decided on Jan 23 to slap safeguards against washing machines and solar cell imports from countries, including South Korea, by levying high import tariffs on them.

Moon said the US import restrictions on South Korean exports such as steel, electronics, solar cell and washing machines, would disrupt the country's export that has international competitiveness.

South Korea's exports expanded 15.8 percent in 2017, the fastest export growth among the world's top 10 exporting countries.

The country's export ranking rose by two notches to sixth in the world last year.

Despite last year's export growth, Moon said trade protectionist moves were enhanced amid the uncertainty over the foreign exchange rate and the global price of crude oil.

He wants a review and a comprehensive policy package to tackle the US moves as they would affect South Korean exports while pushing for innovative growth to improve the country's competitiveness.