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Dispute Arises between Korean and Vietnamese Steel Firms over H-beams
POSCO Unit in Vietnam Exports Low-cost H-beams to Korea
Dispute Arises between Korean and Vietnamese Steel Firms over H-beams
  • By Jung Min-hee
  • July 31, 2019, 16:28
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H-beams produced by a POSCO subsidiary in Vietnam are flooding the Korean market, prompting Korean producers to consider filing an anti-dumping suit against it.

Korean H section steel producers such as Hyundai Steel and Dongkuk Steel are considering filing an anti-dumping suit with the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy against Vietnamese steel companies as imports of low-cost H-beams from Vietnam are surging, steel industry sources said on July 30.

Yet the Vietnamese Steel Association (VSA) is reacting strongly to such a move, threatening retaliatory measures against Korean steel companies.

Imports of Vietnamese H-beams to Korea stood at only 7,204 tons in 2015, but surpassed 200,000 tons last year and reached 105,000 tons in the first half of this year. Hyundai Steel and Dongkuk Steel are the two leading H-beam producers in Korea. The two companies produce both small and mid-sized products, while large products are produced by Hyundai Steel alone.

Korean H-beam prices are around 700,000 won per ton while Vietnamese H-beams are usually cheaper. "H-beams are already in oversupply," a steel industry official said. "I understand the two Korean producers are considering filing an antidumping suit."

Paradoxically, nearly all Vietnamese H-beams exported to Korea are mostly produced by POSCO SS Vina, a Vietnamese subsidiary of POSCO. POSCO SS Vina is the only H-beam producer in Vietnam. However, POSCO SS Vina is in difficulty. Although POSCO entered the Vietnamese market to penetrate the Southeast Asian market, POSCO SS Vina is suffering from a local market downturn. Korean companies and an overseas subsidary of a Korean company are fighting against each other in the Korean market.

Yet the Vietnamese Steel Association is reacting to the two Korean steel companies’ move, causing concern that the issue may escalate into a hot trade matter. The VSA recently sent a letter to the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Korean Embassy in Vietnam, and the Korea Iron & Steel Association to express its disappointment and argue that Vietnamese H section steel products are not dumped in Korea as they are exported to Korea at internationally reasonable prices and traded at prices similar to those of Korean H section steel. It further argued that H-beams exported from Korea to Vietnam are alloy steel containing borax, which not only hampers the taxation of the Vietnamese government, but also adversely affects the safety and life of the Vietnamese people. In Vietnam, alloyed steel is duty-free but a 10 percent tariff is imposed on general H-section steel.