The US Commerce Department yesterday proposed preliminary duties on imports of Chinese steel tubes and laminated woven sacks, despite strong opposition from China.
The US proposed the tariffs after determining that China provides unfair subsidies to the manufacturers of the goods.
This brings to four the number of countervailing duties imposed on Chinese imports since the Bush administration began imposing anti-subsidy duties on China.
Vice-Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said earlier that the US was violating WTO rules by conducting anti-dumping and countervailing investigations against Chinese products. For the past two decades, the US has classified China as a non-market economy, which means it is not subject to anti-subsidy measures.
The measures might also lead to double taxation, according to Gao, because if the US deems that exporters are being subsidized, they could face anti-dumping as well as countervailing duties.
China complained to the WTO in September about the combined countervailing and anti-dumping rulings from the US on Chinese coated paper, according to an earlier statement from the commerce ministry.
Rectangular pipe will face duties of up to 77.85 percent under the latest US proposal, while laminated woven sacks will face duties ranging from 2.57 percent to 57.14 percent, according to the Commerce Department.
In August, the US International Trade Commission made a preliminary ruling that imports of laminated woven sacks from China were negatively impacting the industry in the US, as trade of the two items has surged in recent years.
From 2004 to 2006, imports of laminated woven sacks from China increased 80 percent and were valued at US$40 million in 2006. From 2004 to 2006, imports of rectangular pipe from China increased 840 percent to US$44 million.
But yesterday's decision doesn't mean a tax will be imposed immediately. The Commerce Department will examine the claims and make a final decision next year. The US International Trade Commission will then decide whether American producers are being hurt by imports.