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South Korea scores partial win in washer trade dispute with US

[GENEVA] South Korea won a partial victory against the United States in a World Trade Organization ruling on Friday that found fault with the method used to calculate US duties imposed on Korean-made washing machines that are deemed to be subsidized and unfairly priced.

The ruling will not immediately alter the countervailing duties of up to 82 per cent imposed by the US Commerce Department in 2013 on washers made by Samsung Electronics Co, LG Electronics Inc and Daewoo Electronics Co after a complaint brought by Michigan-based Whirlpool Corp.

South Korea in August 2014 brought its objections to the WTO about the US calculation methods, which are also the subject of a wide-ranging dispute brought by China against the United States.

A WTO panel of three adjudicators rejected several of South Korea's claims, including objections to the Commerce Department's findings that tax credit subsidies were not tied to specific products. But it upheld South Korea's objection to calculations of duties for "targeted dumping" of products into the US market aimed at regions, time periods or customers with price cuts.

William Perry, an international trade lawyer in Seattle with Dorsey & Whitney LLP, said the decision, if upheld, could ultimately make it more difficult for US manufacturers to bring similar cases involving targeted dumping by Chinese companies.

A spokesman for the US Trade Representative in Washington said: "We are carefully reviewing the report and considering next steps." Both countries have 60 days to appeal.

"Today's WTO decision will not affect the application of the 2013 antidumping and countervailing duties orders on clothes washers from Korea," Whirlpool said in a statement. "This 2013 order followed a US government ruling that washers imported from South Korea were unlawfully priced and subsidized."


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