October 25, 2019 / 12:34 AM / 18 days ago

South Korea to give up developing country status in WTO talks

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will no longer seek special treatment reserved for developing countries by the World Trade Organization in future negotiations given its enhanced global economic status, its finance minister said on Friday.

In late July, U.S. President Donald Trump put pressure on the WTO to change how it designates developing countries, singling out China, with which the United States is engaged in a trade war, for unfairly getting preferential treatment.

South Korea’s developing country status was self-designated.

“The government decided not to seek special treatment as a developing country from future negotiations at WTO,” Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in a media briefing.

Hong said this decision is “not to forego the developing country status, but is to not seek any special treatment from the negotiations going forward.”

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has maintained its developing country status as a member of the WTO since the body’s creation in 1995, mainly to guard its agriculture industry.

The finance minister also said the government would make every effort to protect the country’s agriculture industry.

(This story corrects 3rd paragraph to say South Korea designated itself as a developing country, not by the WTO)

Reporting by Jane Chung and Joori Roh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez & Shri Navaratnam

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