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South Korea launches WTO dispute over U.S. tariffs on washing machines

Washers and dryers are seen on display at a store in New York July 28, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Washers and dryers are seen on display at a store in New York July 28, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

GENEVA (Reuters) - South Korea has launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization to complain about U.S. punitive tariffs on South Korean washing machines, the WTO said on Thursday.

A U.S. trade panel approved anti-dumping duties on imports worth hundreds of millions of dollars from South Korea and Mexico in January, following a complaint by American manufacturer Whirlpool .

The panel's unanimous backing of Whirlpool cleared the way for the Commerce Department to issue five-year duty orders on imports manufactured by Samsung , LG Electronics <066570.KS> and other suppliers.

South Korea's complaint focuses on the way the United States measures "dumping" of imported goods, or selling at unfairly low prices. The United States has agreed to change its calculation methods after a series of similar complaints from other trading partners.

Under WTO rules, the United States has 60 days to deal with South Korea's concerns, or Seoul could ask the Geneva-based trade body to adjudicate, with the goal of eventually overturning the U.S. tariffs.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office did not immediately comment on the South Korean challenge.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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