SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s steel exports to the United States last year, regulated by a quota, fell more than those by key rivals China and Japan that were subject to higher tariffs, analyzed data indicated Tuesday.
According to the analysis by the Washington office of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), U.S. imports of steel from Asia-Pacific countries, including South Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan, diminished visibly in the January-November period last year.
The analysis was based on statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department.
South Korea, whose biggest steel export destination is the U.S., shipped 2.43 million tons during the months, down 24.8 percent from 3.23 million tons of the previous year. Monetarily, the total shrank by more than 13 percent, a KOTRA analysis showed.
“So far, South Korea is measured to have suffered the biggest losses from Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Tariffs,” KOTRA’s analysis said.
In the case of Japan, the volume of exports fell by 20.8 percent and the monetary sum by 0.7 percent. For China, the volume diminished by 13.6 percent and the monetary sum by 7.3 percent.
The exports results could call into question South Korea’s decision to opt for a quota instead of higher tariffs.
Seoul and Washington struck a deal in March 2018 for the U.S. to exempt its 25 percent tariffs on steel imports from South Korea and in exchange limit the imports to the 70 percent level of total shipments for years 2015 to 2017.
Brazil and Argentina were the only two other countries that accepted the quota.
A separate analysis by the Mercatus Center, a research think tank of George Mason University in Virginia, said China and Japan benefited more from tariff exclusions than South Korea, a point that KOTRA referred to in explaining the results.
The Commerce Department granted exclusions for steel tariffs if the article is not produced in the U.S. in sufficient and available amount, in satisfactory quality, or if there was a national security consideration.
China got 2,386 product exclusions that were equivalent to some 40 percent of its steel exports volume to the U.S. Japan received 3,480 product exclusions, equal to 62 percent of its steel exports volume, data from the Mercatus Center showed.
South Korea requested 2,733 exclusions and got 228 approved, 279 dismissed and 2,226 under review.
KOTRA said South Korea was late in requesting exclusions because the U.S. initially did not allow exemptions for countries that accepted the quota system. The rule was changed in August last year.