The United States Department of Commerce is going to release a report within a few days to urge the U.S. government to restrict the import of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) and welded line pipes (WLP) from South Korea, according to industry sources. The decision is based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which is to restrict the import of and impose a tariff on an item that can be regarded as a threat to national security.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an administrative order in April last year to initiate an investigation on imported steel products. The Department of Commerce has to submit the result of the investigation to the White House within 270 days. The Department of Commerce is likely to impose super-high tariffs on the outquota.
Under the circumstances, the South Korean government sent Assistant Deputy Minister Kang Sung-chun to the U.S. on January 9 for talks with the department. The government is going to file a suit with the WTO if the U.S. sticks to its decision. The U.S. is planning to include South Korea in its safeguard targets regarding photovoltaic panels and washing machines, too. This means trade disputes between the two countries are likely to continue for a while.
South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Baek Woon-kyu also flies to Washington D.C. next week to have meetings with those including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The meetings are expected to cover negotiations for KORUS FTA revision, the steel products, and the implementation of safeguards scheduled for January 26 and February 4 for photovoltaic panels and washing machines, respectively.