S. Korea appeals China's retaliatory measures to WTO
SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea made an appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China's apparent retaliatory actions against Seoul's decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system on its soil, the country's trade minister said Monday.
"On March 17, the South Korean government appealed to the WTO service council to determine if Chinese measures on South Korean tourism and retail businesses conflicts with WTO regulations," Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan said in a parliamentary session. He added the country will demand China comply with established rules.
His comment came as China has been strengthening punitive measures against South Korean goods and businesses in such areas as tourism, retail and cultural content following the move to bring in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Authorities here have said THAAD will help deter provocations from North Korea.
Beijing has banned group tour sales heading to South Korea and delayed customs procedures on goods, with nearly all music concerts and shows starring Korean actors or singers suspended.
"The Chinese government may not admit that they took retaliatory measures against the THAAD decision, but we have to point out the possibility," said the minister. "We are collecting evidence and will also deal with issues that South Korean companies are treated unfairly in China."
Seoul claims that such punitive measures by China violate the two main clauses -- most favored nation (MFN) and national treatment (NT).
Under the WTO framework, member countries have to give equal treatment to all trading partners in comparison with all other nations, while imported and locally produced goods should be treated equally.
Another official from the trade ministry explained that the appeal does not mean an official lawsuit before the WTO, as there is no clear evidence that the Chinese government imposed such retaliatory measures.
"We've pressed China through multilateral channels," said the official.
South Korea's Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan speaks at a parliamentary session in Seoul on March 20, 2017. (Yonhap)