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Anti-dumping probes not to counter US move

By Su Qingyi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-11 07:40

China has been holding aloft the banner of free trade and criticizing the rising trade protectionism trend in some economies. So how do we analyze its anti-dumping investigations into optical fiber perform products imported from the United States and other economies? And its decision to launch investigations into halogenated butyl rubber imported from the US, the European Union and Singapore?

To begin with, the investigations are not counter-measures to a US probe into China's intellectual property practices under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974, because China cannot possibly start a counter-probe in such a short time.

The Section 301 probe was launched within four days of US President Donald Trump seeking it. But China took a longer time to launch the anti-dumping probes. To seek an investigation, Chinese companies need to collect sufficient materials and evidence according to the Anti-dumping Regulations of China, following which the Ministry of Commerce will review them and then decide whether they merit a probe.

The official statement said that an anti-dumping probe has been launched into halogenated butyl rubber imports, and Chinese companies applied on Aug 14 seeking the probe, implying the preparation started much before the Section 301 probe started. This makes it clear the anti-dumping investigations are not a counter-measure to the US probe.

And even though the US has launched a probe under Section 301, negotiations are more important for China than taking counter-measures. Generally, the US Trade Representative starts negotiations with China once a Section 301 probe is initiated. And only when the negotiations fail will the US impose sanctions on China. As such, the interests of the US and China both can be better protected through negotiations.

China's anti-dumping investigations are aimed at protecting the free trade order with full respect for the rights of all companies. China will impose anti-dumping duties on foreign companies only if they have really dumped their goods in the country. Moreover, if the companies are not satisfied with the decision, they can refer the case to the World Trade Organization's Dispute Settlement Body for counterclaim.

There is a significant difference between the US unilaterally imposing sanctions on other countries through Section 301 and China respecting foreign companies' appeal to the WTO to ensure that fair judgment is delivered.

It is unfair to assume China is taking counter-measures to the US probe, because China's investigations are against products imported from not only the US but also the EU and Singapore. Besides, whether the Ministry of Commerce will conduct anti-dumping investigations depends on foreign companies' prices, competition mode and their influence on Chinese companies and industry. The anti-dumping investigations have been launched to regulate companies that indulge in unfair competition, in a bid to develop a fair and healthy market order, not to counter any country's move.

The Chinese government has the right to protect its rights and interests by, if need be, launching anti-dumping investigations and developing a fair and just market.

The author is an associate researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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