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Action Plan for 2000 Against Foreign Import Restrictions - Import Policy of S.Korea

As more countries strengthen their import restrictions on Korean products, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) has drawn up an action against foreign import restrictions that is line with reaching the ministry's target of a $12 billion trade surplus for 2000.

MOCIE believes that restrictions on Korean product will increase due to factors such as the delay in the latest round of WTO talks, the expanded trade deficit, the forthcoming US presidential elections and the increasing protectionism of Asian and Latin American countries as they recover from the economic crisis.

Meeting the challenge against increased protectionism will be handled by implementing proactive measure.

MOCIE will begin monitoring import trends by quaters and products. If a product is identified as exceeding its previous year's export by 50%, MOCIE will advise the affected company or the organization. MOCIE will thereby assist the company in establishing an Early Warning System to adapt appropriate countermeasures.

When a product is identified as a potential target of import restrictions, MOCIE will dispatch a joint mission, along with the affected parties, to the appropriate foreign government agencies. The mission will make presentations to the relative country in an effort to raise public awareness of unreasonable and unfair import restrictions.

In addition to the main areas being monitored for possible import restriction -- such as semi-conductors, shipbuilding and steel -- the existing organization between the relative country and Korea that monitors exports by industry will be expanded and strengthened.

In regard to items that are already being contested in courts, MOCIE intends to increase its involvement in alliance with the affected industries. This will include actions such as appealing to the WTO.

MOCIE intends to make the most of the existing cooperative channels from both sides such as the Industrial Cooperation Committee (9 units) and Economy Cooperation Committee (57 units), both of which are under the aegis of MOCIE.

This year MOCIE will make a concentrated effort to help Small and Medium sized Enterprises(SMEs) cope with imports restraints.

MOCIE's official web-page(http://www.mocie.go.kr) has information on import restraints as they pertain to SMEs.

* The site includes information on the import restraint systems of major countries, case studies of successful appeals and countermeasures and a response form pertaining to imports restraints.

MOCIE will also develop a back-up plan for SMEs.

To establish a better environment for SMEs and anticipate problem areas, MOCIE will consolidate the countermeasure systems of the private sector and government.

With the assistance of the Korea International Trade Association(KITA), MOCIE will increase the scope of the existing Import Restraints Countermeasures Planning Team. The team, which previously met on a quarterly basis, will now meet monthly. MOCIE will also function as a working arm of the team and present systemic countermeasures against imports restraints.

In accordance with that aim, MOCIE held the first meeting of the team was held on the January 27. Topics under discussion included, strengthening the plan against imports restraints in 2000, trends and countermeasures against import restrictions, and an action plan for February.

Seventeen people participated, 8 of whom were trade officials from relevant organizations such as KITA, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Association (KOTRA) and Korea Steel Association (KOSA). Nine participants were officials in charge of affected products.

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