The European Commission has informed the World Trade Organization of its decision to adopt a 25-percent duty on imports of steel into the European Union above a certain level from Feb. 2, the foreign ministry said Friday.

In the notice to the WTO, the EC said steel imports below 105 percent of volumes recorded during the 2015-2017 period will be exempt from tariffs through 2021. But steel imports exceeding 105 percent will be slapped with a 25-percent duty, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

South Korean steelmakers, such as POSCO, will be granted additional quotas on top of their average export volumes to the EU for the 2019-2021 period, Kim Hee-sang, director general for the ministry’s bilateral economic affairs, said over the phone.

The additional quotas for Korean steel imports will rise to 105 percent from Feb. 2 to June 30 2019, to 110 percent from July 1 2019 to June 30 in 2020 and 116 percent from July 1 2020 and June 30 2021, the statement said.

“(Under the extended tariff-rate quota for South Korea), Korean steelmakers will be able to proceed with their exports to the EU without troubles (at current export levels). But if their exports to the EU increase, they could face a hefty 25 percent tariff,” he said.

The EU is the fourth-biggest importer of South Korean steel products. Korean steelmakers exported $2.9 billion worth of products in 2017, the statement said.

In March 2018, the EC assessed imports of steel into the EU after restrictions were implemented by the United States. In July, it adopted provisional measures in the form of a ‘tariff-rate quota’ that imposes a 25-percent duty on imports exceeding a certain level. (Yonhap)