Business leaders lobby US on trade, alliance
The leaders of Korea’s business lobby groups are heading to or already in the United States to meet politicians and corporate leaders there to call for greater interest in issues concerning the two countries, according to industry officials Friday.
The leaders are lobbying for Korea’s exemption from the Trump administration’s planned tariffs on car imports and for stronger security cooperation, among other issues, they said.
The U.S. decision on car tariffs set to be made in November, the escalation of the U.S.-China trade war and Korea’s withdrawal from the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan are weighing on Korea’s economy.
Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) Chairman Huh Chang-soo is already in the U.S. to attend the 31st annual Korea-U.S. Business Council Meeting in Washington, D.C., on Friday, where he demanded a stronger alliance amid growing regional tensions and economic risks.
The FKI delegation called for an exemption from tariffs on imported vehicles based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act as well as discussing worsening regional disputes and the free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S.
“The recent trade spat between Korea and Japan is also a big concern for the U.S. because it is likely to have a negative impact on the global supply chain,” an FKI official said. “We hope Korea and the U.S. come up with business solutions to ease heightening geopolitical risks.”
Stephen Biegun, special representative for North Korea, and Harry Harris, U.S. ambassador to South Korea, joined the meeting.
Some FKI members and business leaders visited the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as the Council of Foreign Relations and the Heritage Foundation to address Korea’s stance on bilateral trade and investment.
Korea International Trade Association (KITA) Chairman Kim Young-ju will also visit Washington to try to expand economic and trade cooperation.
According to KITA, he will be accompanied by executives of eight companies — including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, POSCO and Hyosung — during his four-day visit starting Monday.
He will also call for Korea’s exemption from tariffs on imported cars and request cooperation to counter the trade protectionism of key trading partners such as Japan.
Kim will meet Kelly Ann Shaw, Trump’s special assistant and senior director for international trade, to stress the importance of the two nations being economic partners and security allies, according to KITA.
“We will also highlight the fact that Korean companies are increasingly looking for investment in the U.S., which can be a sign of a stronger alliance between Korea and the U.S.,” a KITA official said.
Meanwhile, Korea Federation of SMEs Chairman Kim Ki-mun is arriving in the U.S. on Saturday to attend the Korean American Public Action Committee and meet Rep. Brad Sherman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia.
During the meeting, Kim will call for reopening the Gaeseong complex, which was shut down in February 2016 amid heightened tension over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.