South Korea to consider WTO complaint over US steel tariffs

The Hyundai Research Institute said in a report Friday that 25 percent tariffs would lead to a 22 percent cut in South Korean steel exports to the US . (Reuters)
Updated 09 March 2018
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South Korea to consider WTO complaint over US steel tariffs

SEOUL: The US’ third-biggest steel supplier South Korea will ask Washington for an exemption from President Donald Trump’s new tariffs and consider filing a complaint to the World Trade Organization if it is refused, Seoul said Friday.
Trump imposed steep tariffs of 25 percent on foreign steel and 10 percent on aluminum Thursday, drawing sharp protests from allies at home and abroad amid fears of a global trade war.
South Korean trade minister Paik Un-gyu expressed his regret at the move in a meeting with steel executives, saying: “If this action takes effect, it would inevitably deal a serious blow to South Korea’s steel exports to the US.”
The South is a treaty ally of the US, which has 28,500 troops stationed in the country to protect it from the nuclear-armed North but has found itself on the receiving end of Trump’s “America First” economic agenda.
A free trade agreement between the two is being renegotiated at Washington’s behest, and talks are currently taking place in Hawaii on cost-sharing for the US military presence, after Trump said on the campaign trail that Seoul should pay more.
The trade ministry will seek consultations with the US Trade Representative at an early date to ask for reduced or no tariffs on the country’s steel products, it said in a statement.
If it is unsuccessful, it will “actively consider” filing a complaint with the WTO in cooperation with other countries, it added.
Other nations have condemned Trump’s decision, with China, the world’s second-largest economy, calling it a “serious attack” on the global trading system.
The Hyundai Research Institute said in a report Friday that 25 percent tariffs would lead to a 22 percent cut in South Korean steel exports to the US — or almost $1 billion of the nearly $4 billion-worth of steel the South shipped to the US last year.
South Korea ranks third among steel suppliers to the US after Canada and Brazil.


Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

Updated 23 March 2019
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Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

  • Firms under pressure to explain how greener laws will hit business models

PARIS: The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
Two of the companies — Shell and Chevron — said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.
“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic program of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.
“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”
The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.
As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit their highest levels in human history in 2018, the five companies wracked up total profits of $55 billion.
At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change — composed of the world’s leading climate scientists — issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.
InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.

 

It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.
“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.
It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.
The report came one day after the European Parliament was urged to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access, after the US giant failed to attend a hearing where expert witnesses said the oil giant has knowingly misled the public over climate change.
“How can we accept that companies spending hundreds of millions on lobbying against the EU’s goal of reaching the Paris agreement are still granted privileged access to decision makers?” said Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher, who was not involved in the InfluenceMap report.
The report said Exxon alone spent $56 million a year on “climate branding” and $41 million annually on lobbying efforts.
In 2017 the company’s shareholders voted to push it to disclose what tougher emissions policies in the wake of Paris would mean for its portfolio.
With the exception of France’s Total, each oil major had largely focused climate lobbying expenditure in the US, the report said.
Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.
AFP contacted all five oil and gas companies mentioned in the report for comment.
“We disagree with the assertion that Chevron has engaged in ‘climate-related branding and lobbying’ that is ‘overwhelmingly in conflict’ with the Paris Agreement,” said a Chevron spokesman.
“We are taking action to address potential climate change risks to our business and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
A spokeswoman for Shell — which the report said spends $49 million annually on climate lobbying — said it “firmly rejected” the findings.
“We are very clear about our support for the Paris Agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy,” they told AFP.
BP, ExxonMobil and Total did not provide comment to AFP.

FACTOID

$ 28m

Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.