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US Imposes Heavy Tariffs on Steel From Vietnam of South Korea, Taiwan Origins

The main targets of the United States' newest tariffs are corrosion-resistant steel products and cold-rolled steel.

According to Bloomberg, the US Commerce Department recently imposed an import tax of 456.23% on steel imports from Vietnam that use materials from South Korea and Taiwan. The duties will be applied beginning August 8, Taiwan News reports.

The department claims in a statement that the main reason for the tariffs is to prevent Asian businesses from shipping their products to a third-party country, like Vietnam, before importing them to the US as a way to avoid high taxes. According to the news source, South Korean and Taiwanese firms have been accused of shipping almost-completed steel products to Vietnam for minor processing before shipping them on to America.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the US imposed duties on steel from South Korea and Taiwan in December 2015 and February 2016, respectively. Since then, the department statement says, the volumes of corrosion-resistant steel products and cold-rolled steel from Vietnam to the US also rose by 332% and 916%.

As trade tensions between China and the US have risen, many companies have eyed Vietnam as an escape route from the tit-for-tat measures taken by the world's two largest economies, and there was a wave of Chinese manufacturers sending their products to Vietnam, or labeling them as made-in-Vietnam, to dodge US taxes.

In the latest episode of President Donald Trump's tariff spree, the US appears to be shifting part of its focus to Vietnam. Last week, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Vietnam's products in response to the country's economic success during the US-China trade war. Last month, Vietnam was added to the US Treasury Department's watch list of countries that have a high chance of currency manipulation. 

“Well, we’re in discussions with Vietnam. Vietnam is almost the single worst — that’s much smaller than China, much — but it’s almost the single worst abuser of everybody,” President Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network last week.

[Photo via CEP]

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