The US Commerce Department announced it will impose duties of up to 31% on steel pipes imported from China, Bloomberg reported. The US$2.8 billion worth of steel pipes – typically used in oil and gas wells – that the US buys from China each year will be subject to an average duty of 21.3%. American steel producers, hit hard by lst year’s sharp decline in oil prices, claimed that their Chinese counterparts were benefiting from unfair subsidies, which prompted the Commerce Department to investigate. The duties might be sufficient to block most or all of the Chinese imports, according to Michelle Applebaum, an investment advisor on the steel industry. Steel pipe from Jiangsu Changbao Steel Tube would face duties of 24%; Tianjin Pipe Group, 11%; Wuxi Seamless Pipe, 25%; and Zhejiang Jianli Enterprise, 31%. All other producers must pay 21%. In another example of recent trade disputes between China and the US, President Barack Obama must decide by September 17 whether to impose tariffs on imported Chinese tires.