World / US and Canada

US duties on China's steel exports draws sharp response

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York ( Updated: 2016-05-27 14:33

The US resumed its campaign against steel exports from Chinese mainland with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of up to 450 percent on corrosion-resistant steel, drawing a sharp rebuke from China on Thursday.

The Commerce Department on Wednesday also levied duties of 3 percent to 92 percent on corrosion-resistant steel from India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan on Wednesday.

Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it was dissatisfied at what it called the "irrational" US move. "The United States has deliberately suppressed the bulk of Chinese steel exports," the ministry said in a statement. "This not only harms Chinese steel enterprises but hinders trade and cooperation between enterprises."

It said that US regulators discriminated against Chinese suppliers by using incorrect standards for deciding what production cost and market prices should have been.

The US actions are having a profound impact on steel prices in the US, according to John Packard, publisher of Steel Market Update, an industry news source. "The duty rates against China are prohibitive and will most likely result in China being removed as a supplier into the US coated-steels markets," Packard said.

Packard said the issue of trade suits being used as a way of controlling the massive over-capacities of steel production has been spreading from the US to Europe, South America and elsewhere. "Over the short term we expect flat-rolled steel prices will be higher around the world with the possible exception of China. This has already occurred here in the United States," he said.

The ruling comes as tensions mount between Beijing and Washington amid a glut of steel in the global market due in part to the sharp fall of oil prices nearly two years ago that trimmed steel demand in energy-related projects. Last week the Commerce Department imposed tariffs of imposed duties of up to 522 percent in a separate action on Chinese cold-rolled flat steel, which is used for car bodies and appliances.

European and US steel producers claim China is distorting the global market and undercutting them by dumping its excess supply abroad. They also believe that China unfairly subsidizes its domestic industry. China blames a softening world economy for the current state of the steel market. In February China's State Council set a goal of reducing steel production capacity by 100 million to 150 million tons in five years.

The US announcement on Wednesday clears the way for the first duties to be assigned on steel products since the US steel industry started filing cases a year ago, claiming that Chinese mainland, South Korea, India, Italy and Taiwan had dumped the metal in the US.

The International Trade Commission is scheduled to make its decision next month on whether domestic steelmakers were injured by unfair trade, after which the government would order duties on the products.

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