"I want you to confidently and resolutely deal with unfair trade protectionist measures by considering filing a formal complaint with the WTO and reviewing possible violation of the Korea-US free trade agreement (FTA), and also actively point out the unfairness of such measures in negotiations to revise the Korea-U.S. FTA…. I urge the government to thoroughly review the possible effect of such measures on exports and come up with comprehensive support measures," South Korean President Moon Jae-in told his aides, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
Moon's remarks came after the US commerce ministry announced plans to impose high import tariffs, as high as 53 percent, on steel and aluminum products from countries, including South Korea.
On January 20, US President Donald Trump approved recommendations of the International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose safeguard tariffs of up to 50 percent on imports of large residential washing machines and solar cells and modules. In addition, the United States is currently probing imports of some steel products from several countries, including South Korea.
President Trump has railed against China since his election campaign, trying to impose curbs on Chinese imports and restrain the trade relations with the country, calling them "unfair".
In January, the US imposed tariffs of up to 30 percent on imported solar cells, in an action aimed mostly at Beijing. China's commerce ministry responded by announcing an anti-dumping inquiry into US exports of sorghum, an animal feed.
The two countries have been renegotiating their FTA since US President Donald Trump started criticizing the 2012 agreement, calling it horrible and unacceptable.
The current FTA between China and South Korea, signed in 2015, comprises conflict regulations between the investors and governments but lacks protection against discriminatory practices amid tense bilateral relations, according to the Yonhap news agency.