South Korea's trade ministry said Wednesday it will work with local carmakers to respond to potential import restrictions by the United States, which has launched a probe into auto imports.
Last month, the US Department of Commerce launched an investigation into possible tariffs on imported vehicles and auto parts, on national security grounds, under Section 232 of its trade law.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy held a meeting with major automakers, including Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., as well as related organizations and trade promotion agencies, to discuss countermeasures.
The ministry said it will submit a written statement claiming South Korean autos do not pose risks to US security on Friday and send a delegation to a public hearing slated for July 19-20 in Washington.
Though the target and scope of the investigation hasn't been revealed, Seoul officials and Korean automakers have expressed concerns that the Donald Trump administration's move could add uncertainty to the market in the short term. A similar investigation launched under Section 232 last year resulted in a 25 percent tariff on imported steel, although in many cases Washington has not applied hefty duties and settled for a quota system.
While Korean-made autos are exempt from US duties under the bilateral trade pact implemented in 2012, market watchers say new tariffs imposed under Section 232 could deal a heavy blow to local manufacturers and parts makers.
Out of 2.53 million Korean vehicles sold abroad last year, about 33 percent were shipped to the US, according to data compiled by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association. South Korea exported 178,980 vehicles to the key market in the first quarter of 2018, down 22 percent from a year earlier. (Yonhap)