South Korean steel and chemical products, the country's leading export items, have increasingly become targets of import restrictions in other countries, a trade agency said Wednesday.
Reports sent in by overseas offices of the Korea Trade-investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) showed that of the 19 new investigations launched against products from South Korea in the latter half of last year, 11 were in the chemical sector and seven in steel.
The number of probe cases on South Korean chemical goods jumped from two in the first half.
The United States, China, India, Turkey and Pakistan each launched two investigations, while Mexico, Vietnam, Jordan, Indonesia, Canada, Thailand, the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and South Africa started one each.
KOTRA said such import restrictions will likely become more common this year as South Korea's trade partners take protectionist measures. The Donald Trump administration in the U.S. has reinforced personnel who deal with anti-dumping and countervailing duties for steel at the Commerce Department, strengthening imports monitoring.
China may resort to anti-dumping decisions to ease excess production of chemical products at home, KOTRA projected, or invoke non-tariff barriers. Beijing has already banned imports of South Korean products, saying the products did not have proper trade documents, a move Seoul sees as a retaliation against its decision to host an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the country.
"China may bolster import restrictions in order to foster its own domestic industries," KOTRA said.