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South Korea files WTO complaints over new U.S. tariffs
The WTO has forced the United States to repeal tariffs in the past, and South Korean officials expressed confidence that it may do so again.
By Rick Docksai
Feb 22, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — South Korea has opened up two new disputes at the World Trade Organization this week against the United States over the Trump administration's new tariff on solar panels and washing machines. A WTO document reports that South Korea is also seeking consultations with U.S. officials in the meantime to discuss the tariffs, which South Korean officials said they deem to be "inconsistent with U.S. obligations" under the trade-governing body's member laws.
South Korean officials noted that existing rules oblige any nation enacting new tariffs to consult with its trading partners first. They said that Trump's tariffs announcement goes against this rule and also violates the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and the GATT 1994 agreement.
The sanctions that South Korea is challenging include a 30% tariff on foreign-made solar panels and a 20%-50% tariff on foreign-made washing machines.
The United States now has 30 days to resolve the issue with South Korea. If the 30-day concludes with no resolution, South Korea will then have 60 days to impose sanctions on the United States.
"Korea looks forward to a prompt reply of the United States in order to set a mutually convenient date and venue for these consultations," the document states.
If the WTO rules in South Korea's favor, it can order punitive measures against the United States. Kim Hyun-Chong, South Korea's foreign trade minister, expressed confidence that the WTO would side with South Korea given past cases, such as a 2003 steel tariff that the United States enacted and repealed shortly afterward when the WTO overturned it.