President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
INTERNATIONAL –South Korea is seeking an annual $350 million (R4.98 billion) in trade sanctions against the US in an Obama-era dispute over tariffs on steel pipes, it said in a World Trade Organisation (WTO) filing published yesterday.

South Korea went to the WTO in 2014 to challenge US tariffs levied on oil country tubular goods (OCTG), a type of steel piping used in the energy industry.

Washington said its tariffs aimed to stop South Korea exporting the product at unfairly cheap prices. After South Korea won a partial victory at the WTO, the US had until July 12 to comply with that ruling.

South Korea said the US had failed to do so and it was seeking sanctions equal to the level of trade harm done.

“Based on available data, this level is estimated at $350m annually. This amount will be adjusted by applying the annual growth rate of the OCTG market of the US,” it said in the sanctions request published by the WTO.

South Korea plans to impose the sanctions by putting tariffs on certain types of US goods, which it said it would announce at a later date.

South Korea’s OCTG exports to the US were worth $818m in 2013, benefiting from a boom in the US shale oil and gas industry. South Korea has put the request for sanctions on the WTO agenda for August 9, but the US is likely to contest that, triggering a further round of legal wrangling.

The WTO system is designed to encourage parties to settle disagreements amicably, and the imposition of trade sanctions is a rare outcome. 

Reuters