South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon announced on Monday that “[South Korea] will make clear what our stance is […and] deploy all possible means to respond to U.S. steel tariffs measures and make an all-out effort.” South Korea is the third-largest exporter of steel to the United States and it has already filed a request for a waiver on the tariff. South Korean minister for trade Kim Hyun-chong will leave for the U.S. tomorrow in an effort to minimize the harm that the tariffs are expected to cause on the South Korean economy.
South Korea is also considering the possibility of joining the Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of June. Eleven countries have already signed the historic trade agreement which excludes the United States, sending a strong message against protectionism and trade wars. Japan and Canada are among the signatories.
In Europe, trade negotiations continue between the European Union and Britain in preparation for the Brexit which is due to take place in a year’s time. German’s BDI industry body is lobbying the EU to confirm a customs union with Britain that will reduce the impact on trade after Brexit. British Prime Minister Theresa May has remained resistant to such negotiations, reiterating that Britain seeks the freedom to negotiate its own trade deals. Britain is the second-largest export market for German automobile manufacturers and data out Monday showed an addition 58 billion pounds in annual costs if a deal is not reached between Britain and the EU for after Brexit.
Finally, all eyes are on the United States and its proposed steel and aluminum tariffs. The EU has already released a list of potential retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products such as bourbon and blue jeans. Canada and Mexico, which are exempt from the tariffs pending the conclusion of the NAFTA negotiations, are remaining cautiously optimistic about the future, while focusing on ways to structure the treaty that will cancel the tariffs indefinitely without them having to yield too much to President Trump.