WTO investigates South Korean claims of unfair trade barriers

South Korea's claims that the US and the European Union imposed unfair trade barriers on sales of Korean memory chips are to be...

South Korea's claims that the US and the European Union imposed unfair trade barriers on sales of Korean memory chips are to be examined by the World Trade Organisation.

The WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) set up two panels to investigate separate claims made by South Korea against the US and the EU.

The dispute with the US concerns a countervailing duty that the US International Trade Commission (ITC) imposed on imports of South Korean dynamic Ram chips last August.

The ITC was responding to a November 2002 complaint from Micron Technology about the pricing practices of Hynix Semiconductor of Seoul.

This is the second time South Korea has asked the WTO to investigate its concerns about the DRam duty.

The DSB's Panel, which include China, the EU, Japan and Taiwan as members, will examine the matter.

The US has maintained that the duty was consistent with its obligations to the WTO.

The DSB second panel will examine complaints about retaliatory measures taken by the EU against South Korean DRam imports.

Last April, the EU imposed a 33% duty on imports of DRam chips manufactured by Hynix, claiming they were subsidised by the Korean government.

An EU representative said the US had come to the same conclusion, and the EU action was also compatible with WTO rules.

The WTO is a discussion forum within which nations agree to rules and resolve disputes about international trade.

The DSB, made up of all WTO members, has the power to force governments to comply with its dispute settlements.

Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

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