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UPDATE: China, South Korea Protest US Solar, Washing Machine Tariffs

Tue, 23rd Jan 2018 14:07


Beijing/SEOUL (Alliance News) - China and South Korea on Tuesday decried a US decision to introduce steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar energy cells and panels.

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun Chong will lodge a complaint against the move at the World Trade Organization (WTO), his office said on Tuesday.

The US measures, which include setting up tariffs of up to 50% for imported washing machines, were "unfair", Kim said at a meeting of industry representatives.

South Korean home appliance manufacturers Samsung and LG, as well as Chinese solar energy firms are likely to be most affected by the measures, which aim to protect US manufacturers against foreign competition, as part of President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said the decision is detrimental to global trade in these fields and illustrative of Washington's "excessive and frequent trade protection", according to a statement by Wang Hejun, director of the ministry's Bureau of Trade Relief Investigation.

The solar tariffs, approved on Monday by Trump, start at 30% and are set to gradually fall to 15% over the next four years.

Trump's decision was in keeping with the conclusions of his trade advisers, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said.

"The president's action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard," Lighthizer said.

The tariffs are mostly directed at China, which is the world's largest manufacturer of solar products, Lighthizer said.

Even though the US had imposed tariffs on Chinese solar energy products before, Chinese firms moved production to other countries in order to evade them, he added.

Trump's move was defended by the influential head of investment firm Blackstone, Stephen Schwarzman, who was speaking during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Beijing's import tariffs have been three times as high as Washington's to date, Schwarzman said on Tuesday, adding that the trade relationship between the two sides had to become fairer.

China's laws were similar to those of the US in the 19th century, he said, which seemed to be normal in developing countries.

He praised Trump's decision to cut corporation tax from 35% to 21%, saying this would encourage investment in the US. The US was the "place to be" in the developed world, he said.

Washington's rows over trade with both Beijing and Seoul have intensified in recent weeks. The US is preparing a decision in an investigation into China's alleged intellectual property theft. And Trump has demanded the renegotiation of a US-South Korea free trade agreement, which he has slammed as a "job killer".

By Simina Mistreanu, dpa

Copyright dpa

Alliance News



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