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PM: Korea 'being driven into difficult situation'

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Tuesday Korea is being "driven into a difficult situation," citing General Motors' decision to shut down one of its assembly plants in the country and the possibility of a hefty tariff on Korean steel exports to the US.

"GM Korea decided to shut down its Gunsan plant and the US Trump administration is putting together measures restricting steel imports," Lee said at the start of a Cabinet meeting. "It appears Korea is being driven into a difficult situation. Related ministries should work with a determined attitude on how we should deal with a situation like this."

Lee Nak-yon(Yonhap)
Lee Nak-yon(Yonhap)

GM said last Tuesday that it will close its plant in the southwestern port city of Gunsan by the end of May due to lower demand for its vehicles. The move, which is expected to result in the shedding of thousands of jobs, came as part of the Detroit-based automaker's broad restructuring program across the world.

Adding to these woes, the US Commerce Department suggested slapping a 53 percent tariff on steel imports from a dozen countries, including Korea, last week as part of measures to protect the local industry. Of them, Korea was the only US ally.

On Monday, President Moon Jae-in ordered the government to deal with such "unfair protectionist trade measures" in a "confident and resolute" manner, raising concerns that the two allies could clash head-on over trade issues.(Yonhap)