South Korea lobbies China at WTO over USA missile shield trade spat

Posted March 21, 2017

Korea is already suffering from China's apparent economic retaliation measures, such as banning Chinese travelers from visiting Korea and applying stricter customs procedures on Korean goods, as China has been asserting that the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system on the Korean Peninsula poses a threat to its territory.

Trade minister Joo Hyung-hwan raised the issue with the WTO's Council for Trade in Services, asking China to comply with its obligations, Kang said.

In the past few months, the Chinese government has imposed various trade restrictions in the tourism and retail sectors in apparent retaliations against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not comment directly on South Korea's complaint. It has banned the sale of tour packages to Korea, while the operations of dozens of Lotte Mart stores have been suspended in China for alleged fire safety breaches. The ministry confirmed that the government accused Beijing of breaching the MFN and national treatment regulations, more as to bring global spotlight to Chinese action as it won't be easy to file legal charges against China.

The Chinese government began to take retaliatory measures against the South Korean economy last month with regard to THAAD deployment in South Korea.

Kia Motors' sales have dropped significantly in the first two months this year, hit hard by China's economic retaliation against South Korea's move to deploy the US-lead THAAD system in the region, industry data showed on March 21.

To mitigate the pressure on the country's businesses, Seoul has offered cheap loans and extended deadlines on existing debt.

Despite its concerns about the radar, Beijing also says THAAD will do nothing to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Some South Korean lawmakers ramped up criticism of what they say has been the government's lack of an aggressive response to China's actions, which they claim also include a freeze on South Korean television dramas, as well as music and product boycotts.

Speaking to reporters at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, Yu said, "The Chinese retaliation against South Korea is palpable, but without a legal entity behind the action, no measure can be taken on a national level".