(3rd LD) South Korea and US agree on new channels for supply chain dialogue

(ATTN: UPDATE paragraphs 1-4, 10, 13-14 with results of meetings)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) – South Korea and the United States on Friday agreed to establish new channels of dialogue to strengthen cooperation on supply chains and other trade issues of interest common, both sides said.

The deal was reached at a meeting of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Joint Committee co-chaired by South Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo and US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai .

“Minister Yeo and Ambassador Tai agreed to initiate new approaches through improved communication channels to effectively address emerging trade-related issues in areas such as supply chain challenges, technologies emerging markets, the digital ecosystem and trade facilitation, with the aim of deepening cooperation to enable common approaches and responses to the challenges facing global trade, ”read their joint statement.

The two sides also discussed the need to “create sustainable, resilient, inclusive and competitive trade policies that ensure large-scale prosperity,” the statement said.

Seoul and Washington have sought to strengthen their cooperation to secure resilient supply chains of major components and other items, such as semiconductors, amid a global supply shortage and heightened Sino rivalry. -american.

Earlier this month, Seoul’s Minister of Industry Moon Sung-wook met with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and agreed to create a new channel for director-level dialogue on semi- drivers and hold an inaugural meeting in December.

“We use our KORUS foundation to discuss how we can address the main issues and challenges we face today, such as supply chain resilience, workers’ rights and environmental protection. “Tai said in her opening speech. KORUS refers to the bilateral free trade pact.

The two sides also discussed steel tariffs, according to Seoul’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

“We have once again expressed our position and concerns regarding the Article 232 rules, and called on both sides to start negotiations for its revision at an early date,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two sides did not directly mention the steel issue in their joint statement, but said they “agreed to continue their close cooperation to resolve any issues that may arise.”

The United States decided in October to lift the import tariffs of 25% on European steel and 10% on aluminum imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018. The lifting is expected to take effect on January 1. .

In 2018, the United States lifted tariffs on South Korean products, but in exchange for an annual import quota of 2.63 million tonnes of steel, or 70% of the average volume of exports. of Seoul steel products over the past three years.

During the talks, the two sides agreed to hold meetings on labor affairs in the near future, stressing the importance of labor and environment issues for the well-being of the people.

Earlier today, Tai met with South Korea’s Labor Minister An Kyung-duk and discussed ways to advance cooperation to strengthen workers’ rights and international labor standards, An’s office said. .

On the table of the meeting between Yeo and Tai were also new technologies in the agricultural sectors, a certificate of origin and a visa.

In addition, they assessed the achievements of their free trade agreement which entered into force in March 2012.

“I look forward to exploring ways to jointly develop the agreement in the future,” said Yeo. “In particular, at a time of increasing uncertainties in the global economy due to the ongoing pandemic, the KORUS FTA serves as the foundation for our strong bilateral trade and investment cooperation.”

Trade volume between the two countries has increased by about 26 percent to $ 131.6 billion since the signing of the free trade agreement, according to government data.

“Korea is one of our most valuable trading partners and one of our closest allies. In fact, KORUS continues to be both a reflection of this close relationship and the foundation on which we can build. to make it even closer and more cooperative, ”Tai said. .

This is the first time in 11 years that a senior US trade official has visited South Korea. She arrived in Seoul on Thursday for a four-day visit which includes a meeting with the Minister of Labor.

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