A controversy erupted as the Korean government, which is now encouraging the imports of crude oil and shale gas from the United States, is collecting “oil import duties” from refiners. The private-sector companies that import U.S. crude oil and shale gas to comply with the government policy are now raising voices of complaint.
Given that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement strictly prohibits the levy of import-related duties, this issue could be escalated into a trade conflict between Korea and the United States.
According to industry sources on April 19, the Korean government asked GS Caltex, which imported 2 million barrels of U.S. crude oil back in November last year, to pay 5.1 billion won of oil import duties.
The government also intends to levy oil import duties on Hyundai Oilbank which announced on April 9 a plan to import 2 million barrels.
Oil import duties are a quasi-tax imposed on the importers of crude oil, costing them 16 won per liter. Some experts pointed out that the imposition of such duties violates the Korea-US FTA agreement.
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