U.S. President Donald Trump says he's considering imposing trade protection measures like retaliatory taxes and quotas on imports of steel and aluminium.
If taken, those measures would likely hit steel products from Korea.
The comments were made at a meeting with a bipartisan group of about 20 lawmakers, as Trump reiterated the need for what he calls reciprocal measures on trade.
"I mean the word reciprocal is a very important word. We have countries that are taking advantage of us.() And we're going to make it fair. And that -- I call that fair trade."
When mentioning America's chronic trade deficit, he expressed dissatisfaction with Japan and South Korea over the sharing of their defense costs.
"We defend Japan, we defend South Korea, they pay us a fraction of what it costs. And we're talking to all of those countries about that, because it's not fair that we defend them and they pay us a fraction of the cost of that defense."
He's apparently adding pressure on America's trading partners, including South Korea, in his push to protect the U.S. market.
The Trump administration is currently negotiating with Korea to revise the 2012 bilateral free trade agreement, which Trump called a (quote) "very bad trade deal," vowing to scrap it if the renegotiation doesn't yield satisfactory results.
Trump also claimed that following GM Korea's decision to close its plant in the southwestern city of Gunsan in May this year, the car company is moving back to Detroit.
General Motors, however, has not announced that it's moving back to Detroit, and in a statement said the decision was made because of sustained significant losses.
Still, here in Korea, experts warn that in the long run, protectionism could hurt the local economy.
"Many scholars in Asia are worried about the Trump administration's protectionist policies. Although it hasn't affected Korea's trade volumes or exports to a great degree as of now, that's just because the Korean economy relies heavily on the export of semiconductors, which usually have low tariffs."
Experts add that protectionism could even hinder the growth of global GDP, because they say it distorts the optimal distribution of resources and reduces the volume of international trade.
Park Ji-won, Arirang News.