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US Trade Representative to visit S.Korea next week

Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (left) met with US Trade Representative Katherine Chi Tai during a meeting in Italy on Oct. 13 (MOTIE)
Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (left) met with US Trade Representative Katherine Chi Tai during a meeting in Italy on Oct. 13 (MOTIE)
US Trade Representative Katherine Chi Tai will visit Seoul on Thursday, according to government officials on Sunday.

It will mark the first time in 10 years for the country’s chief trade negotiator to visit South Korea since Free Trade Agreement talks were held in 2011.

It is expected that Tai will discuss a number of economic and trade issues with South Korean counterparts including the semiconductor supply chain and a digital trade agreement.

Other topics include incentives for South Korea companies investing in the US as well as cooperation to tackle climate crisis.

Her visit comes as South Korean chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics and SK hynix were recently asked by the US Department of Commerce to answer a list of questions.

The questionnaire touched upon sensitive business information including types of technology nodes, semiconductor materials and devices. The firms were also asked to reveal their order backlogs and top customers, as well as other details of their inventory status.

Though the US has said the move is to help tackle the ongoing semiconductor supply shortage, it was met with concerns that providing confidential information could hurt South Korean companies.

Against this backdrop, the South Korean trade ministry is expected to discuss strengthening semiconductor cooperation, ask the US to not require further information from South Korean chipmakers, and keep the information that has been shared confidential.

The South Korean side is also likely to raise the issue of steel tariffs after the US and EU agreed to end a tariff dispute.

Earlier this month, Joo Young-joon, director general for industry policy at Seoul‘s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said the potential increase in the volume of EU steel imports would “inevitably have adverse impacts” on South Korea’s exports.

High-ranking government officials such as Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo will meet with Tai during her visit.

She will first visit Japan on Monday before arriving in Korea later that week. After her visit to Korea, the US chief trade negotiator will head to India.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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