SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean government’s plan to file a WTO petition against U.S. safeguard measures is unlikely to buoy the spirits of local exporters, as previous cases have proven ineffective.
Following the U.S. government’s decision to impose anti-dumping duties on South Korean washing machines and solar panels, the South Korean trade ministry announced plans to file a petition with the World Trade Organization against the U.S.
However, skepticism is growing among South Korean manufacturers, given that the U.S. hasn’t always abided by WTO recommendations and rulings.
“Plans for a WTO petition are being prepared, but we aren’t sure how effective it will be,” said Cho Hyun-soo, the CEO of Hanwha Q Cells, during a meeting with energy industry officials earlier this week.
According to the WTO, the South Korean government has filed petitions against the U.S. on 11 occasions thus far, with eight resulting in a verdict in favor of South Korea.
However, past cases show the U.S. took nearly two years at least to follow through on the advisory warnings issued by the WTO, which aren’t legally binding.
The trade war between the two countries dates all the way back to 1997 when the U.S. lifted anti-dumping tariffs imposed on South Korean color TV screens as a result of a WTO petition.
During the same year, another verdict was reached by the WTO in favor of South Korean DRAM, while the WTO once again resolved a trade row between South Korea and the U.S. over anti-dumping tariffs on South Korean stainless steel coil, as the U.S. government respected the WTO’s recommendation in 2001.
On many other occasions however, the U.S. government has been accused of taking too long to follow through on the WTO’s recommendations over safeguard measures.
In August 2013, the South Korean government filed a petition over tariffs on washing machines, and received a favorable verdict in September 2016. However, during the long procedure, Samsung and LG had to move their manufacturing plants to Vietnam and China.
American President Donald Trump’s administration has said in the past it will challenge World Trade Organization rulings that it sees as interfering with U.S. sovereignty.