The South Korean government has officially warned the UK government of reviving tariffs on British imports as a countermeasure against its steel safeguard decision on Korean steel products after the Brexit transition period.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced Wednesday it has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that Seoul could suspend concession to Britain in counter to London’s extension of safeguards on Korean steel products.
The WTO allows a country hit by another country’s safeguard measures to suspend its waiver on the sweeping tariffs accordingly, equivalent to the damages from the safeguard implementation.
The UK mirrored the European Union’s safeguards on steel imports after the Brexit transition period from this year and extended the tariffs on 15 items for the next three years from July 1. Seoul had negotiated for compensation with London but failed to reach an agreement despite two rounds of talks.
Generally, suspension of concessions to cover trade compensation is allowed three years after the imposition of a safeguard or after the WTO’s acknowledgement that the measure is against its policy. Seoul made it clear that it has the right to apply the tariff waiver suspension to the UK as it does to the EU over the same issue.
The EU introduced its steel safeguard measures first in 2018, and Korea submitted its notice that it could seek ways to take retaliatory measures against the decision, substantially equivalent level of concessions in April 2019. The Korean government now is able to immediately stop the trade concessions to the EU, and further to the UK under the WTO guideline, said a government official.
“Seoul will keep closely working with domestic steel makers and exporters and continue negotiations with the UK government to find ways to get through the tough times,” said the official.
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]