China’s ministry of commerce has said it “resolutely opposed” a US decision to impose preliminary duties on $2.6bn in imports of Chinese-made steel pipes, a move it called protectionist.
The case, one of the biggest pieces of US trade litigation in recent years, comes as President Barack Obama has made a similar decision to curb tyre imports from China. It also coincides with the current meeting of world leaders that will set the atmosphere for global trade talks.
The ministry said, “China is very concerned about this and resolutely opposed to such trade protectionist actions.” There was nothing that was said as to what specific steps China could take in response but plainly there are many, and for the United States, worrying options.
This case, and others that are pending, could push Beijing to become more active in the World Trade Organisation, which it has found a useful tool in keeping markets open to the exports that drive its economy.
Edwin Vermulst, a trade lawyer with Vermulst Verhaeghe Graafsma & Bronkers, and adviser to the Chinese government on a different dispute, said, “China is the number-one target of these duties and antidumping measures, and the primary reason is that China is very competitive. They will continue to resort to the WTO because if they don’t, other countries will feel like they have carte blanche.”
The Financial Times reported that the US decision comes just before the G20 meeting in the steelmaking town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to US Steel, one of the complainants in the steel pipe case.