U.S. court puts brake on AFA application against POSCO

2018.03.13 13:34:36 | 2018.03.13 13:35:45

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The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) ordered the U.S. Department of Commerce on March 8 to re-calculate its countervailing duty on South Korea’s leading steelmaker POSCO, according to industry sources on Monday.

That is yet another partial victory for the South Korean steel industry following a similar court decision for Hyundai Steel in January, suggesting a direct filing with the U.S. judicial branch can be quicker means to respond to the U.S. trade offensive than filing a suit with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

POSCO lodged legal complaint against the U.S. government in 2016 after a 59.72 percent countervailing duty was imposed on its cold-rolled steel sheets with adverse facts available (AFA) applied by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Under the AFA method, a high-rate duty is imposed based on unfavorable information submitted by a US company when the Commerce Department judges that the subject company is not fully cooperating in document submission. But the Korean government and its steel industry have argued the method has been abused.

In July 2015, U.S. steel manufacturers called for an investigation, claiming that the cold-rolled steel sheets imported from Korea were illegally subsidized by the Korean government.

In a preliminary determination in December 16, 2015, the Commerce Department determined that the import of POSCO products at dumping prices was negligible, ending its anti-dumping investigation with a duty of 0.18 percent. But the department overturned its decision later, saying that POSCO did not submit some required data and imposing a 59.72 percent countervailing duty under the AFA application.

The CIT made a similar ruling against AFA application on Hyundai Steel’s corrosion-resistant flat-rolled steel products two months ago.

The court order comes as Korean steelmakers face a sweeping 25 percent tariff from Washington citing negative impact on national security. The government and industry has been working hard to excuse Korea from the heavy duties before they go into effect later this month as Washington has made an exception for Australia on grounds of it being a security ally.

By Woo Je-yoon and Minu Kim

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