Korean and US business leaders call for revision of Section 232 of the US Law

At the 32nd General Meeting of the Korean-American Business Council, business leaders from South Korea and the United States called for a revision of Section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act, which introduced tariffs on steel imports.

The meeting was jointly organized by the Korean Federation of Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce. It was the first meeting of business and political leaders of the two countries since the 2020 US presidential elections. The topic of the meeting is “Deepening Trade Relations between Korea and the United States, as well as Economic Growth and Innovation.”

Korean attendees included Byun Jae Il, Chairman of the Korea American Parliamentary Forum, Choi Jong Goon, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Yun Tae Sik, Deputy Minister of Strategy and Finance. The American side was represented by Stephen Edward Bigan, US Undersecretary of State, and Cordell Hull, US Deputy Secretary of Industry and Security. Executives from major Korean and American companies including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, SK Corp., Amazon and 3M also attended the meeting, which was conducted via video conferencing.

The biggest challenge for business leaders in the two countries was the revision of Section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act. Section 232 allows the US government to take emergency measures, such as restricting imports of rolled steel and other products, or imposing high import tariffs, if foreign products are deemed to threaten US trade security. It has remained largely unused since its inception in 1962, but has returned as the Donald Trump administration pursued protectionist policies. Based on this clause, in 2018, President Trump issued a decree imposing 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products, respectively, and pushed for tariffs on imported cars.

Participants from both countries urged the revision of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, saying it undermines free international trade and threatens the Korea-US economic alliance.

“I hope this issue will be resolved in the future as we expect Chuck Grassley, Republican Senator and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to push for a revision of Section 232, repealed in 2019,” said Kwon Tae Shin, Vice Chairman Federation of Korean Industry.

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