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.


Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

Updated 23 May 2019
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Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

  • It is the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Carlos Ghosn’s actual trial
  • Nissan’s former chairman has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name

TOKYO: Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, appeared in a Japanese courtroom Thursday for a hearing ahead of his trial on accusations of financial misconduct.
It was the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Ghosn’s actual trial. The trial date has not been set, and experts say it could be months away.
Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income and breach of trust. He was released on bail in March, rearrested in April on fresh accusations and then released again on bail on April 25.
Ghosn insists he is innocent and says he was targeted in a “conspiracy” by others at Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan, which is allied with Renault of France, has seen profits nose-dive amid the fallout from Ghosn’s arrest.
Ghosn has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name. One of his top lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, was seen walking into the courtroom Thursday with Ghosn.
One of the conditions of Ghosn’s release on bail is that he is forbidden to contact his wife. Prosecutors say that’s to prevent evidence tampering.
Ghosn’s lawyers challenged that restriction, saying it is a violation of human rights, but the Supreme Court rejected their appeal Tuesday.
The lawyers can appeal again to have the restriction removed.
In a briefing Thursday, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.
“For married people to be together is important, but I feel there was enough reason for the Supreme Court to support us in this restriction,” he said.
Kukimoto declined comment on the hearing, which was closed to reporters and the public.
Kukimoto also said the maximum penalty upon conviction of all 15 counts of the charges Ghosn is facing is 15 years in prison and a fine of ¥150 million ($1.4 million).