Anchor: The U.S. Department of Commerce has reportedly concluded in its latest report that auto imports threaten national security, laying the groundwork for the White House to impose heavy duties on auto imports. The South Korean government, meanwhile, doesn't expect its automakers will be subject to the potential tariffs.
Choi You Sun has the details.
Report: Citing two unnamed sources, the AFP reported on Thursday that the U.S. Commerce Department has concluded that auto imports are "a threat to national security."
An investigation into laws that restrict imports for national security reasons was ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump last May and the report is expected to be delivered to the White House by Sunday.
In the past, the White House has used the national security argument to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, claiming among other things that undermining the U.S. manufacturing base impairs military readiness.
After receiving the report, Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to push ahead with tariffs.
Sources say the report has set the stage for the Trump administration to impose heavy duties on auto imports, after Trump threatened to slap 25 percent duties on European automobile manufacturers including Germany.
Amid uncertainties over whether the report would adversely affect South Korean auto exports, trade authorities in Seoul believe Korea is not a major target of the auto tariffs since it has recently revised its free trade deal with the U.S.
South Korea made concessions regarding automobiles in the revised deal that went into effect in January.
Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong, who recently met with U.S. officials and lawmakers, said earlier this week that Washington's response to Seoul's request for a possible tariff exemption was "not bad."
Meanwhile, an official at the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Friday that Seoul was keeping a "close eye" on the situation.
The official said that while high-ranking U.S. officials have noticed South Korea's efforts to revise its free trade deal with the U.S., a decision on exempting South Korean auto imports from tariffs remains uncertain.
South Korea could suffer a considerable setback if the U.S. imposes tariffs on South Korean automobiles, as the auto industry accounts for 14 percent of production and 12 percent of employment in the country's manufacturing sector.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.