Busi­ness lead­ers lobby US on trade, al­liance

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kwak Yeon-soo [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

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.

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