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China: U.S. Hampering Trade with Steel Duties

The U.S. Commerce Department announced penalties on Wednesday to offset what it said was improper subsidies to Chinese steel mills and unfairly low export prices.

China Us Steel Ap 5746fca60d82a
Chinatopix via AP

BEIJING (AP) — China accused the United States on Thursday of hampering trade after Washington imposed duties of up to 450 percent on Chinese steel in its latest response to a flood of low-priced imports.

The Ministry of Commerce complained U.S. regulators discriminated against Chinese suppliers by using incorrect standards for deciding what production cost and market prices should have been.

Beijing faces mounting criticism from the United States and Europe that it is exporting steel at unfairly low prices to clear a backlog in its glutted home market. Western governments say that hurts their producers and threatens thousands of jobs.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced the penalties on Wednesday to offset what it said was improper subsidies to Chinese steel mills and unfairly low export prices. It imposed similar penalties on steel imports from India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan.

"The United States has deliberately suppressed the bulk of Chinese steel exports," said a Commerce Ministry statement. "This not only harms Chinese steel enterprises but hinders trade and cooperation between enterprises."

It said Beijing will "take all necessary measures to fight for fair treatment" but gave no details.

The latest penalties apply to corrosion-resistant steel products. They include anti-dumping duties of up to 210 percent and anti-subsidy duties of up to 241 percent.

On May 17, Washington imposed similar duties of up to 522 percent in a separate action targeting Chinese-made cold-rolled steel used in automobiles and other manufactured goods.

The Chinese government is trying to shrink bloated industries including steel, coal, cement, aluminum and solar panel manufacturing in which supplies exceed demand. That has led to price-cutting wars that are driving producers into bankruptcy.

Chinese government plans call for stepping up exports and shifting some operations abroad. The Cabinet approved measures in April to support steel exports with tax rebates and bank loans.

The European Union launched its own investigation of Chinese steel exports in early May following protests by steelworkers.

In Britain, Tata Steel cited low-cost Chinese competition when it announced plans last month to sell money-losing operations that employ 20,000 people.

China pushed back against its trading partners in April, announcing anti-dumping duties on steel from the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

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