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UPDATE 3-S.Korea needs to consider a complaint to WTO over U.S. protectionism -steel company official

* S.Korea trade official says govt open to "all options"

* POSCO, Hyundai Steel shares rise after U.S. probe launched
(Updates with trade ministry statement, share price closing
levels)

By Hyunjoo Jin and Jane Chung

SEOUL, April 21 (Reuters) - The South Korean government and
steel industry should consider all measures including filing a
complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in response to
"deepening U.S. trade protectionism," a steel company official
told Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday launched a trade
probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the
U.S. market, raising the possibility of new tariffs.

The United States has already slapped a series of
anti-dumping duties on steel imports from South Korea and other
countries. South Korea's steel association said the United
States is the biggest market after China for South Korean steel
products, and accounted for about 12 percent of the country's
total exports of the metal in 2016.

A senior official at South Korea's trade ministry said the
government was considering its response to the U.S. move.

"We are open to all possible options including filing a
complaint with WTO but nothing has been decided. We will decide
after listening to opinions of the Korean steel industry," the
official said.

The ministry official and the company official asked not to
be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

"The government will closely monitor related trends and will
actively respond together with private companies," South Korea's
trade ministry said in a statement.

The country's trade minister Joo Hyung-hwan will have a
meeting with Korean steel companies on April 27 to gather
opinions and discuss ways to deal with the situation, the
ministry said.

POSCO shares closed up 2.5 percent on Friday
and Hyundai Steel ended up 1.1 percent,
outperforming the wider market's 0.7 percent rise.

"Rising trade protectionism is negative to the steel
industry overall, but the industry has been recovering, helping
cushion the negative impact," said Will Byun, an analyst at NH
Investment & Securities.

POSCO said on Tuesday that its first-quarter operating
profit more than doubled, beating its estimate on solid demand
from China.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Jane Chung; Editing by Tom Hogue
and Susan Fenton)

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