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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Lots of diplomacy this week on the U.S. IRA

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink is seen at the American diplomatic residence in Seoul in this file photo dated Nov. 12, 2021. [YONHAP]
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink is seen at the American diplomatic residence in Seoul in this file photo dated Nov. 12, 2021. [YONHAP]

Korean and U.S. officials are holding discussions about the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and its impact on Korean industries.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon will be meeting with Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth Jose Fernandez and members of the U.S. Congress during a visit to Washington this week.

“I will be meeting with the congress members who drafted the IRA, to discuss possible next steps,” Lee told reporters upon his arrival at Washington Dulles Airport Sunday.

The IRA, signed by U.S. President Joe Biden in August, grants up to $7,500 in tax credits to buyers of electric vehicles assembled in North America.

Korea is concerned because it prohibits subsidies for purchases of EVs made outside the United States or with batteries made with Chinese minerals or components. Hyundai Motor and Kia both make EVs in local plants in Korea.

The Korean government has been lobbying for changes to the IRA to help Korean companies.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon arrives at the Washington Dulles Airport on Sunday. [YONHAP]
Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon arrives at Washington Dulles Airport on Sunday. [YONHAP]

Lee’s visit to the United States follows that of the trade minister’s last week, also to discuss the IRA. Korea has submitted two written opinions to Washington on the matter.

“I will be meeting with both members of the Republican and Democratic parties,” Lee said. “We are also discussing our responses to the act with European counterparts.”

The IRA was also expected to be a topic of discussion between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Young-sam this week.

Kritenbrink flew into Seoul from Beijing on Monday and was scheduled to meet with Choi Tuesday before flying to Japan. He was accompanied by National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Laura Rosenberger.

Kritenbrink and Kim were also expected to discuss North Korean military provocations. Pyongyang has fired over 60 ballistic missiles this year, including its largest intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 18.

The nuclear envoys of Korea, the U.S. and Japan were scheduled to meet in Indonesia on Monday.

Kim Gunn, a special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, was to meet with Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea on Monday in Jakarta.

The Korean nuclear envoy was scheduled to meet separately with Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, on Tuesday, before a meeting with all three nuclear envoys.

Their last meeting to discuss North Korean military provocations was in September.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]