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S. Korea begins countermeasure against Britain's steel safeguard

South Korea has started the process for countering Britain's extension of safeguard measures against its steel exports, the trade ministry said Wednesday.

In July, Britain extended its safeguard measures against steel imports from South Korea for another three years together with the European Union.

South Korea and Britain have been in talks to resolve the dispute, but they have failed to iron out differences, prompting Seoul to move to seek a countermeasure.

The ministry said Seoul has recently notified the World Trade Organization that it could suspend concessions to Britain as a counter to London's extension of the safeguard measures.

A suspension of concessions means that South Korea could impose tariffs on imports from Britain, which correspond to the value of damage caused by the safeguard extension.

Under WTO rules, a WTO member can invoke the suspension of concessions three years after the implementation of safeguard measures or a ruling from the world trade body.

But the ministry said Seoul could immediately start the suspension of concessions since it presented the WTO in April 2019 with a notice that it may invoke the measure against the EU and Britain.

Yet, it added the government will work closely with local steelmakers to cope with the British move and continue negotiations with London to resolve the issue.

Britain and the EU have been charging a 25 percent duty on imported steel products above its quotas since July 2018, citing damage to their steel industry. (Yonhap)