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U.S. leader vows to win trade war

June 04,2018
U.S. President Donald Trump said over the weekend that he will not back down in the ongoing trade war against other countries, escalating concerns of protectionism spreading around the globe.

“The United States must, at long last, be treated fairly on Trade,” Trump said on his twitter page. “If we charge a country ZERO to sell their goods, and they charge us 25, 50 or even 100 percent to sell ours, it is UNFAIR and can no longer be tolerated. That is not Free or Fair Trade, it is Stupid Trade.”

“When you’re almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can’t lose a Trade War,” he continued. “The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade, time to get smart.”

His tweets came after finance ministers of the G-7 nations other than the United States - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom - condemned the decision by his administration to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union at the G-7 finance ministers’ meeting in Canada.

Those three were temporarily excluded from the tariffs on May 1 but did not get permanent waivers.

Tariffs of 25 percent were slapped on imported steel from these countries and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum as of May 31.

Representatives from Canada and the European Union said they will retaliate against Trump’s decision.

Korea was able to dodge the tariffs after coming to an agreement on revisions to the free trade pact with the United States earlier this year.

In March, the Korean government agreed to further open its auto market and, in return, receive a waiver on the stiff steel tariffs.

It also agreed on a new quota for its own steel exports to the United States, capped at around 2.68 million tons, about 74 percent of the amount exported in 2017.

At that time, Korea was the second biggest steel exporter to the United States.

Still, Korea may not be safe from protectionism by the Trump administration, which slapped antidumping duties on Korean steel tubes and wire rods in April and May.

In addition, the U.S. Commerce Department opened an investigation last month on all auto imports, which could lead to 25 percent tariffs on its automobiles, which would deal a heavy blow on Korean carmakers that are already experiencing sluggish sales in the country.

For Korean auto companies, the United States remains the top export destination despite falling sales, accounting for about one-third of Korea’s car shipments last year.

The Korean government is already bracing for the possible impact of the tariffs, which may be determined before the midterm elections in the United States in November.

The Trade Ministry on May 24 launched a task force that included representatives from Korean automobile and auto parts makers.

On May 31, it convened a meeting with industry experts to discuss plausible measures against the possible auto tariffs.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]