WASHINGTON -- South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden have reaffirmed their commitment to resolving issues and concerns from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Seoul's top diplomat in the US said Monday.
Amb. Cho Tae-yong also said the countries are discussing various ways to offset any potential damage caused by the new US law to South Korean carmakers.
"President Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden met three times during the U.N. General Assembly and discussed key issues between South Korea and the United States," Cho said in a meeting with reporters.
"Also, discussing our businesses' concerns regarding the IRA at the leader level and reaffirming their serious commitment to resolving the issue is a meaningful achievement," he added.
The IRA was signed into law last month, offering a tax credit of up to US$7,500 to each buyer of a new electric vehicle (EV).
Seoul has been expressing concerns over the US law as it only offers benefits to EVs assembled in North America, thereby excluding South Korean-made vehicles and potentially violating the South Korea-US free trade agreement, as well as World Trade Organization principles that imports should be treated the same as domestic products.
"The government is actively contacting US Congress and administration while seeking ways to resolve the issue in a way that can best represent our interest," said Cho.
A number of ranking South Korean officials, including Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang and Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun, have visited the US for talks on IRA related issues.
Turning to the US-South Korea alliance, Cho said US Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to Seoul this week will further strengthen the bilateral relationship.
"It will be Vice President Harris' first visit (to Seoul) since taking office and the first by a US vice president in four years and seven months," he said.
"The vice president will also be visiting South Korea only four months after President Biden visited South Korea in May, which itself alone shows the importance the US places on the South Korea-US alliance and its determination to be engaged in the Indo-Pacific region," added Cho.
Harris is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Thursday (local time), following her four-day visit to Tokyo as head of a presidential delegation to the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Meanwhile, an official from the South Korean embassy in Washington said the embassy has explained the recent controversy over President Yoon's remarks to the White House National Security Council (NSC), emphasizing that neither the US Congress nor President Biden were the subject of any such remarks as earlier reported.
Yoon was reported to have used vulgar language while referring to the US Congress and the US leader shortly after holding a pull-aside meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York last week.
"(We) have thoroughly explained to a ranking NSC official that those remarks did not regard the US, and the NSC side said they fully understood the situation and that it did not cause any problems," the official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official added, "Reports that are not based on fact may be a burden on the South Korea-US alliance." (Yonhap)