September 13, 2018 / 2:33 PM / 2 months ago

Japan seeks WTO panel over S.Korea's stainless steel bar duties

TOKYO, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Japan on Thursday asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to set up a dispute settlement panel to challenge South Korea’s 14-year-old anti-dumping duties on Japanese stainless steel bars, Japan’s trade ministry said.

South Korea in 2004 imposed anti-dumping duties of 15.39 percent on imported Japanese stainless steel bars, which are used to make auto parts and machine tools, saying Japanese exporters’ dumping of such products hurt the local industry. Japan believes that is no longer the case.

“Cheap imports from China and Taiwan are on the rise (in South Korea), while Japan has shifted to high value-added products,” a ministry official said.

“We believe it is no longer true that imports of Japanese products are hurting the South Korean domestic industry.”

The WTO will discuss the request on Sept. 26. Such a panel would be equivalent to a lower court in regular legal procedure.

Japan’s request would be turned down if just one of the WTO’s 160 or so member countries objects to it. But it could then make a repeat request that would be discussed at an Oct. 24 meeting and approved unless every member country objects, the official said.

Japan’s stainless steel bar exports to South Korea fell 42 percent to 5,349 tonnes in 2016 from 9,269 tonnes in 2002, two years before the introduction of the anti-dumping duties, the trade ministry said. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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