Hyundai Motor vice chairman Chung Eui-sun will meet with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer this week to discuss a tariff exemption for South Korean cars. It is quite rare that the USTR has a one-on-one meeting with a South Korean entrepreneur. The vice chairman is scheduled to meet with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, too.
USTR Robert Lighthizer is the very person who has the final say regarding car imports from South Korea to the U.S. Although it is the U.S. Department of Commerce that decides whether to impose tariffs on South Korean automakers or not, the exception can be actually made only after negotiations with the USTR.
Early this year, the United States excluded steel and aluminum imports from South Korea from additional 25% tariffs, but the exception was replaced with a quota equivalent to 70% of the average exports of 2015 to 2017 after negotiations with the USTR.
According to industry sources, the upcoming meeting itself is a very positive sign in that such meetings have been quite rare. They noted Hyundai Motor Group’s massive investment in Georgia and Alabama and contribution to job creation in the regions. At the meeting, Chung is likely to stress that his company, which has 47,000 employees in the U.S., is not a threat to its national security.