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China welcomes US decision on steel pipe trade
Updated: 2006-01-02 20:15

BEIJING (Reuters) - China welcomed on Monday a decision by U.S. President George W. Bush to reject a request by some U.S. manufacturers for curbs on imports of steel pipes.

"The Chinese side believes that the policies the U.S. government has adopted up to now in these special protection cases help the healthy and stable trade relations of the two countries," a spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry said in a notice on its Web site (www.mofcom.gov.cn).

The other cases it referred to were on clothes hangers, chair height adjustment parts and car brake parts, products the statement said the U.S. had decided not to take measures against.

Steel-pipe producers have asked for curbs under a special provision of Beijing's accession in 2000 to the World Trade Organization that allows countries to restrict imports of manufactured goods from China in response to a surge.

But Bush said that since many other countries also supply steel pipes to the U.S. market, any curbs would likely be replaced by imports from third countries and that restricting Chinese imports would cost U.S. consumers.

China has also pressed the U.S. to reform its anti-dumping procedures, saying they are unfairly slanted against target countries, especially China.

The decision on steel pipes, which was announced on Friday, comes as the Bush administration faces pressure from Congress to take a tough line on trade with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China is estimated at about $200 billion for 2005.

On a visit to Beijing last month, Franklin Lavin, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, said increasing exports to China rather than protectionist measures against Chinese imports was the most constructive way to address the trade deficit.

He also said he suggested to Chinese officials a mechanism for bilateral dialogue on the steel sector to head off potential trade disputes.

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