South Korea to Discuss Developing Nation Status With U.S.

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South Korean trade officials will discuss the country’s developing-nation status at the World Trade Organization with American counterparts this week, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee will reach out to the U.S., and the issue will be addressed at an economy ministers’ meeting soon, the report said, citing Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki.

In July, Trump accused some countries that are among the world’s richest economies of abusing the WTO’s developing-nation status. He warned of unilateral action should the WTO fail to make “substantial progress” after 90 days.

Seven of the world’s 10 wealthiest economies, Trump said, claim developing-nation status -- Brunei, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macau, Qatar, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. So do Mexico, South Korea and Turkey, who are all members of the Group of 20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Trump said.

WTO privileges for developing economies include longer transition periods for implementing trade agreements, and protection against emergency import restrictions imposed by developed nations.

South Korean officials have remained relatively silent in public after Trump’s criticism. The deprival of the status is expected to hurt the nation’s farmers, who are protected by a 513% tariff on imported rice and government subsidies.

In June, Trump ended preferential treatment that India gets under the Generalized System of Preferences, a decades-old program designed to promote economic development, accusing the country of failing to assure the U.S. of “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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