U.S. levy 'unilateral and protectionist'

Updated 2017-10-31 10:04:07 China Daily

Officials, experts say stiff duties on aluminium foil imports from China are discriminatory

Government officials and trade experts from both China and the United States expressed their strong discontent with the US move last Friday to announce a preliminary decision against Chinese aluminium foil product exporters.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that it would impose preliminary import duties ranging from 96.81 percent to 162.24 percent on China's aluminum foil, claiming that the products were being sold at unfairly low prices.

Experts and officials said the U.S. neglected World Trade Organization rules, and its move was both unilateral and protectionist.

The U.S. practice of walking away from global trade agreements, including the WTO, will increase uncertainty and harm global economic growth, said Charlene Barshefsky, a former U.S. trade representative.

"The potential unilateral trade measures against China in steel and aluminum industries are extremely dangerous, especially for global stability and confidence, as well as for economic integration," she said at an international economic governance forum hosted by China's Ministry of Finance.

As the two largest countries bearing significant responsibility for the global economic system, China and the U.S. need to build a win-win bilateral relationship, and protectionism is the enemy of both, said Barshefsky.

Regarding U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to China, Barshefsky said the two sides may have some discussion on steel trade issues, and she hopes to see some progress on it.

Wang Hejun, head of the trade remedy and investigation bureau at the Ministry of Commerce, said the U.S. decision on Chinese aluminum foil products is unfair as its trade authorities still adopt the surrogate country approach to bilateral trade relations.

The surrogate country measure was written into section 15 of the accession protocol formulated by the WTO and China in 2001.

The rule stated that if China could not prove the existence of market conditions in a certain industry, other countries investigating that industry could base their judgment on data from countries at a similar level of development.

However, this expired on Dec 11, 2016, and all WTO members should abandon this approach in anti-dumping probes and rules against Chinese products.

The U.S. Aluminum Association filed anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions in March to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese manufacturers.

The U.S. government then launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on imports of aluminum foil from China.

Wang said the U.S. had neglected this fact and refused to comply with its global obligations by continuing to adopt the discriminatory surrogate country approach toward China.

"The Chinese government will adopt necessary measures to ensure the legal rights and interests of Chinese companies and reserve relevant rights under the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism," said Wang.

Ma Yu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, said many U.S. manufacturing businesses not only accounted for the most profitable sectors but also a number of segments with the highest industrial value-added.

"Taking trade remedy measures has been a frequent recourse for the U.S. to protect the interests of its companies that are backed by an affordable energy advantage and strong technologies," said Ma.

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