South Korea said Friday it has decided to give up its developing country status at the World Trade Organization in a concession to the United States over reform of the global trade body.
The announcement came as U.S. President Donald Trump has been pushing to make sure that self-declared developing countries do not take advantage of special and differential treatment that come with the status.
Trump had warned that the U.S. would no longer treat any WTO member that Washington says is not a developing country as one if no substantial progress were made in overhauling the rules of the Geneva-based trade body by mid-October.
The U.S. has proposed that the WTO strip countries of developing country status if they meet certain criteria -- being members of the Group of 20 advanced economies, being members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, being high-income countries as classified by the World Bank and taking up at least 0.5 percent of total global trade.
South Korea meets all four of the criteria, which could undermine its efforts to maintain its status.
South Korea has kept its developing country status since 1995 to protect its sensitive agriculture industry, especially rice. (Yonhap)