S. Korea balks at new US air cargo rule on lithium batteries


SEOUL — South Korean officials will visit Washington Tuesday to protest at proposed new rules on lithium-ion battery shipments that could cost major exporters hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the government said.

U.S. regulators are set to toughen rules on how the batteries and devices containing them are shipped on cargo planes amid concerns the products may catch fire and cause an aircraft to crash.

The rules require shippers to treat cellphones, laptops and other popular gadgets like iPhones as hazardous materials, with the full weight of regulation and added costs coming with the new classification. The regulations, proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, are being reviewed at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Seoul officials and industry members will visit the agency Tuesday to express opposition, the Knowledge Economy Ministry said. Industry representatives include those from Samsung Electronics, the world’s second-largest mobile handset maker, and the number three LG Electronics, said Park Young-Sam, a ministry official in charge of the matter. “More than 4,000 air shipments of lithium-ion batteries are made every year from South Korea, but none of them has experienced any explosion,” he told AFP.