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South Korea makes case against EU safeguard tariffs on imported steel

Singapore — South Korea made its case against the European Union's provisional safeguard duties on imported steel, and asked for exemptions for its products, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Thursday.

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The ministry said a trade delegation attended a hearing in Brussels on Wednesday to object to the 25% tariff on 23 categories of South Korean steel products. The delegation included Posco, Hyundai Steel and LG Corp.

The tariff, effective July 19 for 200 days, was aimed at protecting the domestic industry from a surge of steel imports after the US imposed tariffs on foreign steel imports earlier this year because of national security issues.

The 25% tariff will only be imposed once imports exceeded the average of imports over the last three years, the European Commission had said.

The delegation said the safeguard measures were not compatible with the World Trade Organization's procedural requirements. South Korean steel products imported to the EU grew 3% from 2016 to 2017, and did not pose a serious challenge to the European industry, the delegation said.

Steel product exports from South Korea to the EU are about 3.24 million mt/year, the ministry said, citing European Statistical Office data.

The delegation said the tariffs will raise steel prices in the EU and affect industries dependent on steel such as automobiles, home appliances and energy.

"The commission will take these comments into consideration in order to reach its final conclusion, at the latest by early 2019. If all conditions are met, definitive safeguard measures may be imposed as a result," the EC said mid-July.

--Clement Choo, clement.choo@spglobal.com

--Edited by Norazlina Juma'at, norazlina.jumaat@spglobal.com