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Semiconductor shortages

S.Korea shows rare unease against US request for Samsung data

The US' move to tackle the global chip shortage draws concern among South Korean government and lawmakers

By Oct 06, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

USTR's Katherine Tai (left) speaks to Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo at OECD meeting on Oct. 5 
USTR's Katherine Tai (left) speaks to Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo at OECD meeting on Oct. 5 

The South Korean government has expressed open concern about the recent request by the US Department of Commerce for more information on the global chip supply chain from the major chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics Co.

The South Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo, during a bilateral meeting with the US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai held in Paris on Oct. 5, said that there is currently a high level of concern in South Korea regarding the US call for corporate information.

Bilateral meeting on global chip shortage and other trade matters between the two countries on Oct. 5. 
Bilateral meeting on global chip shortage and other trade matters between the two countries on Oct. 5. 

“South Korea is deeply concerned that the request for information by the US government is not only broad in scope but also includes some key corporate secrets of our companies,” said the South Korean trade minister.

“Our understanding is that such measure was put forward with the intention to solve the ongoing global chip shortage. We will discuss South Korean government’s concerns regarding the issue with relevant departments within the American government,” said the USTR.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) on Oct. 6 said that the meeting with the USTR followed after the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM).

MOTIE added that South Korea and the US at the bilateral meeting agreed to continue close cooperation in the areas of global supply chain, technology transfer, digital trade, vaccines as well as climate change.

The two countries also shared a mutual understanding about the importance of the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC12) to be held next month, said MOTIE.

USTR's Tai with the South Korean Trade Minister in September during his visit to Washington, D.C.
USTR's Tai with the South Korean Trade Minister in September during his visit to Washington, D.C.

South Korea and the US will partner closely at the WTO conference to come up with tangible achievements in fisheries subsidies as well as COVID-19 control, added the ministry.

“In normal circumstances, it is an atypical move by the US to request internal data from individual firms. We will, where necessary, discuss closely with the US government regarding the matter to prevent our companies from being pushed into unfavorable positions,” explained the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Sung-wook at the parliamentary audit held on Oct. 5.

Moon Sung-wook is also the head of the ministry overseeing energy and overall industry issues, while Yeo Han-koo is in charge of trade matters only.

Write to Ji-hoon Lee at lizi@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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