By Ko Jae-man
Filing a legal complaint against Beijing with the World Trade Organization (WTO) is one of many options Seoul is considering to challenge China’s economic retaliatory actions over deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, Korea’s top trade negotiator said on Wednesday.
“Taking the issue to the WTO has been an option,” Korea’s trade minister Kim Hyun-chong said in a press briefing on Wednesday. “But we must study what are best and productive means.”
Kim added that if there is plan A, there should also be plans B and C, and Seoul must ready for all the consequences and contingencies.
“A card is wasted when it is laid down on the table,” the minister said.
Another strategy is to appeal to other merits in bilateral relationship.
As an economic cooperation measure with China, the trade minister proposed a free trade agreement between two cities each with a free trade zone, such as Korea’s Incheon and China’s Shanghai.
“The Korean peninsula is a crossway of continental and marine powers, and therefore, should be well balanced,” the ministsaid.
Seoul has proposed to Washington a joint study on the impact on the respective economies since the bilateral free trade pact took effect five years ago before entering negotiations to moderate terms in the deal. Washington is yet to answer.
U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly has ordered his trade representative to study termination of the FTA with South Korea.