The United States has imposed duties on steel pipe imports from South Korea and eight other countries in response to claims from U.S. Steel Corp. and the United Steelworkers union that domestic production was suffering because of unfair competition from abroad.

The other countries affected by the measure are Turkey, Ukraine, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Thailand. Following the industry's complaint, the U.S. Commerce Department carried out an investigation and concluded that steel pipe from these countries had been sold below cost on the U.S. market, which was a violation of international trade rules, Bloomberg reported.

As a result, the Commerce Department introduced duties ranging between 9.89 percent and 15.75 percent on pipe from South Korea, which is used in oil drilling. Duties on pipe from the other nations on the list, which accounted for a combined import value of $722 million last year, range between 2.05 percent and 118.32 percent.

Duties will have to be paid immediately, but will be refunded if the U.S. International Trade Commission decides that U.S. producers have not been harmed by the imports. The decision is expected within a few months.

The United Steelworkers union welcomed the decision, stating that the U.S. Commerce Department had taken "a stand for fairness" on behalf of employers and workers in the sector. However, the union also called the step "overdue," as the Commerce Department refused to impose duties on Korean pipe earlier this year.