A South Korean trade group on Thursday reportedly asked for an exemption from a tariff on auto imports to the U.S., citing a security alliance and a bilateral trade agreement it says was formed in March.
U.S. President Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on auto imports and foreign-made car parts, including from Europe and elsewhere, citing what he sees as unfair trade pacts and as the Commerce Department investigates what the administration sees as national security risks posed by some imports.
“We are confident that Korea is not a source of threats that may impair U.S. national security, but rather a market of great export potential that meets the interests of the American auto industry,” Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said in comments it filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Reuters reported from its Seoul bureau.
South Korea has production facilities for domestic firm Hyundai Motor as well as U.S. automaker General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -1.03% . South Korea is the fourth-largest auto exporter to the U.S. after Mexico, Canada and Japan. Hyundai and Kia also have factories in the U.S.
KITA noted that South Korea and the U.S. had already agreed in principle in March to revise their bilateral trade deal, with Seoul saying it would improve local market access for U.S. automobiles and accept an extension on import tariffs for Korean pickup trucks for another 20 years.
KITA said the trade deal revision works to “ensure and maintain U.S. security interest in the region,” where the U.S. has a military presence, according to the filing with Commerce.
Earlier this month, South Korea announced plans to pursue negotiations for its first free-trade agreement with Russia.