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South Korea Files Complaint With WTO Against U.S. Steel Tariffs
From the Wall Street Journal of Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:00:03 EST

SEOUL—The South Korean government said Monday it has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, seeking to nullify punitive U.S. tariffs levied on imports of certain Korean steel products.

The filing would require both countries to start negotiations within a month. If an agreement isn’t reached by the end of February, the WTO would make its own ruling, according to Seoul’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The U.S. Commerce Department in July imposed tariffs of up to 16% on South Korean steel pipes and tubes used for oil drilling, a response to the alleged dumping of steel products in the U.S. at artificially low prices. The International Trade Commission, a U.S. federal body that investigates unfair trade practices, confirmed the tariffs in August.

The ministry said that the U.S. Commerce Department didn’t accurately assess the cost of production and, as a result, “unduly inflated” the profit margins for Korean steel pipes and tubes, according to a statement.

U.S. Embassy officials in Seoul weren’t immediately available for comment.

The latest U.S. ruling was widely seen as a victory for U.S. steelmakers, like U.S. Steel Corp, that are eager to protect their business in one of the world’s most lucrative steel markets. Last year, South Korea exported 894,300 tons of such steel products worth $817 million to the U.S.

Hyundai Hysco, one of the six affected South Korean steelmakers, said Monday it separately appealed the case to the U.S. Court of International Trade in October. The company said it has taken separate legal action to facilitate the dispute quickly.

“We understand the court is still deliberating the case. We haven’t heard anything from it yet,” said Hyundai Hysco spokesman Kim Byung-gyu.

The steel dispute marks the second major trade spat between South Korea and the U.S. since the two countries launched a free-trade deal two years ago. Washington last year slapped Korean washing machines with antidumping tariffs, which Seoul is now challenging at the WTO.

In July, two WTO panels ruled against U.S. duties imposed on Chinese steel and solar panels and on Indian steel from 2007 to 2012.

Write to In-Soo Nam at In-Soo.Nam@wsj.com



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