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Trump gov’t turns screws on imports from Korea

Apr 25,2017
Amid continuing worries about U.S. protectionism, the Donald Trump administration has turned up the heat on Korean imports it suspects of being dumped.

Between January and April, there were 28 dumping investigations on Korean products imported to the U.S., compared to 53 investigations last year.

According to a study by the Korea International Trade Association released Monday, anti-dumping investigations and countervailing duties sharply rose since 2013.

In 2012 there were only 12 investigations of Korean goods. In succeeding years, the number was always above 30.

The American government has slapped antidumping duties and countervailing duties on 24 Korean products as of April 12. This is the third-largest amount of penalties imposed on trading partners of the U.S. The top two spots went to China and India. Among the products that were penalized, 75 percent were types of steel.

More worrying than the investigations of Korean products, according to KITA, was that Washington is resorting to antidumping and countervailing duties of a punitive nature by further tightening its trade laws.

In June 2015, the U.S. enacted the Trade Preference Extension Act, which allows the government to take a more aggressive position when judging whether a foreign company is dumping its products.

“Global trade has experienced protectionism in the past,” said Lee Tae-ho, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs during a conference held at the World Trade Center in Seoul on Monday. “However, the recent movement is different than any past precedent in that the U.S., which has been the leader of free trade, is actively participating.”

Under the revised U.S. trade legislation, the Department of Commerce can decide on antidumping duties based on information provided by American competitors - not from the Korean exporter - when it believes the exporter has failed to provide proper information.

In the past, it exclusively used data provided by the foreign companies.

Korea was the victim in the first case in which the U.S. government raised duties by applying a so-called particular market situation (PMS), part of the 2015 revised trade legislation, which gives the U.S. government more authority when determining dumping cases.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]