S. Korea needs to consider complaint against US steel protectionism

A woman runs past steel products stacked at a steelworks in Seoul July 15, 2015. — Reuters pic
A woman runs past steel products stacked at a steelworks in Seoul July 15, 2015. — Reuters pic

SEOUL, April 21 — South Korea's government and steel industry should consider all measures including filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in response to “deepening US trade protectionism,” an industry source told Reuters today.

The source's comments came after US President Donald Trump yesterday launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the US market, raising the possibility of new tariffs.

A senior official at South Korea's trade ministry said the government is considering its response to the US move.

“We are open to all possible options including filing a complaint with WTO but nothing has been decided. We will decide after listening to opinions of the Korean steel industry,” the official said.

The official and the industry source asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Posco shares were up 2.3 per cent and Hyundai Steel stocks were up 0.8 per cent in the wider market that climbed 0.9 per cent as of 0341 GMT.

Only about 5 per cent of South Korea's steel production goes to the United States, according to Choi Moon-sun, a steel analyst at Korea Investment & Securities in Seoul.

Still, South Korean steelmakers, including top-ranked Posco are bracing for rising tariffs in the United States.

On March 30, the US Department of Commerce made a finding that several countries including South Korea dumped carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate in the US market, allowing it to impose duties ranging from 3.62 per cent to 148 per cent.

In addition, there was a final finding that South Korean imports were subsidised, leading to a countervailing duty of 4.31 per cent being slapped on those products.

In September last year, the US International Trade Commission said it would keep in place most of the recent anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties that have targeted hot-rolled flat steel imports from Australia, Brazil, Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea and Turkey. — Reuters