- Same official bundled his North Korea news with request for tariff exemption
- Chung Eui-Yong announced last night that Trump had agreed to meet with Kim Jong-Un about de-nuclearizing his hermit kingdom
- South Korean government confirms that he spoke with H.R. McMaster and James Mattis
- Trump said Thursday that tariff regime would be ‘flexible,’ suggesting any country could ask for its own loophole
The South Korean envoy who brought Donald Trump the chance to meet with North Korea’s dictator and make the case for nuclear disarmament also asked the administration for an exemption from his new steel tariffs.
And Chung Eui-Yong’s request came with a warning that Seoul will consider filing a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization if the White House doesn’t comply.
Chung’s economic appeal came just hours before he stood outside the West Wing and announced the substantial new wrinkle in global diplomacy.
South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong (center) addressed journalists Thursday evening after meetings at the White House, announcing that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un invited President Donald Trump to nuclear talks this spring
Trump unveiled new steel and aluminum tariffs on Thursday afternoon – a levy from which South Korea quickly asked for an exemption on the same trip
South Korea’s presidential office confirmed on Friday that Chung made the ask in person, first meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster about it.
In a statement, the office said U.S. officials had a ‘positive reaction.’
Trump said Thursday during an Oval Office announcment that ‘America will remain open to modifying or removing the tariffs for individual nations as long as we can agree on a way to ensure that their products no longer threaten our security.’
And in a morning Cabinet meeting, he said the U.S. would be ‘very flexible’ but determined to ‘protect the American worker.’
His remarks raised the possibility of a global parade of exemption requests from U.S. allies, limiting the tariffs’ overall impact.
Chung spoke outside the West Wing as a circus-like reporter scrum closed around him
The Korea International Trade Association released a report Friday concluding that 60 percent of the steel pipes and tubes South Korea exported last year were shipped to the United States.
That puts Seoul in a tight spot, since Trump signed a proclamation Thursday afternoon imposing 25 per cent tariffs on future shipments.
Only Canada and Brazil send more steel to the U.S. than South Korea.
Trump’s new import tariffs will take effect in two weeks.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that there might be ‘carve-outs’ – exemptions – ‘for Mexico and Canada based on national security, and possibly other countries as well.’
She predicted that waivers would be offered on a ‘case by case’ and ‘country by country’ basis.