South Korea to take dispute on U.S. steel anti-dumping duties to WTO

A pocket calculator is seen on steel products at a steel works in Seoul October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s trade ministry said on Wednesday it will take a dispute to the World Trade Organization against the United States for imposing high anti-dumping duties on South Korean steel and transformers.

The move comes after the United States in May 2016 slapped anti-dumping duties on Korean steel products and transformers of up to 60.81 percent by applying the Adverse Facts Available (AFA) provision.

The ministry said applying AFA rules allowed the United States to unfairly levy high anti-dumping duties without thoroughly verifying data available to them.

The trade ministry said in a statement it will request a bilateral discussion with the United States under the WTO agreement and notify the WTO on Wednesday.

In recent months, the United States has stepped up efforts to protect its industry including the renegotiation of free trade agreement with South Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was considering a range of options to address steel and aluminum imports that were unfairly hurting U.S. producers, including tariffs and quotas.

Last month, Trump also approved a steep tariff on imported washing machines and solar panels in a move to protect American manufacturers, sparking criticism from China and South Korea.

In response to the steep tariffs, South Korea’s trade ministry said that it would “actively response to U.S. trade protectionism,” including filing a complaint to the WTO.

Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Lincoln Feast