February 1, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 10 months ago

South Korea complains to U.S. about tariffs on washing machines, solar panels

FILE PHOTO: Samsung washing machines are seen in a store in Singapore January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean trade representatives have made a strong complaint to the United States about the “unfairness” of its safeguard measures against imported washing machines and solar panels, the Asian nation’s trade minister said on Thursday.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a steep tariff on imported washing machines and solar panels in a move to protect American manufacturers, sparking criticism from China and South Korea.

South Korea and the United States began talks in January to revise a two-way trade pact that took effect in 2012, as Trump has been vocal about scrapping the deal to tackle trade imbalances, particularly with U.S. automakers.

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said the talks were far from complete, but both sides were hopeful of wrapping up the negotiations.

“We had heated negotiations... We have still long way to go,” Kim told reporters in Seoul after an hours-long second round of talks on the pact.

“The U.S. is keen on automobiles in light of reducing its trade deficit with South Korea.”

The United States is South Korea’s second-biggest trading partner after China.

Negotiators from both countries divided into groups to discuss specific subjects such as anti-dumping and safeguard issues, the auto sector’s market access and tariffs and investor-state dispute settlement, Kim added.

In response to the U.S. tariffs, South Korea’s trade ministry has vowed to “actively respond to U.S. trade protectionism,” including making a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Writing by Jane Chung; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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