US appeals WTO panel report on S Korea over tariffs

The US has appealed a World Trade Organisation’s panel report in favour of Seoul over Washington’s high tariffs on South Korea’s steel and power transformer products.

The US filed a notice of appeal with the WTO’s Appellate Body, a move that left the dispute in limbo as the de facto Supreme Court of international trade has stopped functioning for more than a year.

The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body had planned to hold a meeting on Friday to adopt the panel report, but the meeting was cancelled due to the U.S. appeal.

The U.S. move came two months after the WTO panel said eight cases of Washington’s tariffs on South Korean goods violated the international organisation’s rules, reports Yonhap news agency.

The US has been levying high tariffs on some South Korean products by applying the “adverse facts available” (AFA) provision since May 2016, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The provision allows extremely high anti-dumping and countervailing tariffs if an accused company doesn’t provide the data demanded by authorities.

The US has been imposing tariffs of 9.49 percent to 59.72 percent on South Korean steel products, with those on electrical transformers reaching 60.81 percent.

South Korea filed the lawsuit with the WTO in February 2018, as the two countries failed to narrow their differences.

In January, South Korea said the latest decision by the WTO will help in preventing unlawful application of the AFA provision on other products.