Korean and U.S. Business Leaders Call for Revision of Section 232 of U.S. Trade Expansion Act

Posted on 19 November 2020

Business leaders of South Korea and the U.S. called for the revision of Section 232 of the United States Trade Expansion Act at the 32nd general meeting of the Korea-U.S. Business Council on Nov. 17.

The meeting was jointly hosted by the Korean Federation of Industries and the American Chamber of Commerce. It was the first gathering of business and political leaders from the two countries since the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The theme of the meeting was “Deepening Korea-U.S. trade relations and economic growth and innovation."

Participants from the Korean side included Byun Jae-il, chairman of the Korea-U.S. Parliamentary Forum, Choi Jong-gun, first vice foreign minister, and Yoon Tae-sik, deputy minister of strategy and finance. The U.S. side was represented by Stephen Edward Biegun, U.S. deputy secretary of state, and Cordell Hull, U.S. acting undersecretary for industry and security. Executives from major Korean and U.S. companies, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, SK Corp., Amazon and 3M, also attended the meeting, which was conducted via a video conferencing system.

The biggest issue for the business leaders of the two countries was revising Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of the United States. Article 232 allows the U.S. government to take emergency measures, such as restricting imports or imposing high tariffs on imports, if foreign products are deemed to threaten U.S. trade security. Since its introduction in 1962, it had virtually not been used but made a comeback as the Donald Trump administration implemented protectionist policies. Based on this clause in 2018, President Trump issued an executive order imposing 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products, respectively, and has been pushing for tariffs on imported cars.

Participants from both countries strongly urged the revision of Article 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, saying it undermines free international trade order and threatens the Korean-U.S. economic alliance.

"I hope this issue will be resolved in the future as we expect Chuck Grassley, a Republic senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance to push for the revision of Article 232 aborted in 2019," said Kwon Tae-shin, vice chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries.

Source : Business Korea