On August 30, Baek Woon-kyu, minister of trade, industry and energy, asked the steel industry to execute a voluntary restructuring, saying, "The steel industry should boldly cut down on items that are oversupplied or not competitive."
"The steel industry is in a critical transition period and must evolve into a high-tech, high-value-added industry in response to the 4th industrial revolution," said the minister in a meeting with representatives of the steel industry at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul.
"Please find alternatives to ease the trade structure of the Korean steel industry where exports (41.7%) and imports (41.6%) have high proportions compared to production volume by way of autonomous consultations between companies in the steel industry,” minister Baek emphasized.
Then, minister Baek promised to actively respond to trade issues such as toughening import regulations of major steel importing countries, Article 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act and the US’s investigation into import steel’s effects on US security. "Based on international norms against unreasonable import restrictions, we will resolutely deal with trade issues with utilizing all available means such as complaints to the WTO and bilateral meetings in mind," Baek stressed.
In attendance were Kwon Oh-joon, chairman of POSCO, Woo Yu-cheol, vice chairman of Hyundai Steel, Jang Se-uk, vice chairman of Dongkuk Steel, Kim Chang-su, president of Dongbu Steel, Lee Soon-hyeong, chairman of Seah Steel, Lee Tae-joon, president of KISWIRE, Sohn Bong-rak, chairman of TCC Steel.
These companies explained to the minister about their business troubles such as steel trade issues such as import regulations being toughened by the US, an upsurge in inadequate import steel products, burdens on the steel industry resulting from environmental regulations, concern about a rise in electricity rates.