China links foil row to future of US trade

By Jing Shuiyu | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-11 07:46

China links foil row to future of US trade

Two workers walk past a production line of an aluminum plant in Suixi county, Anhui province. WAN SHANCHAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Aluminum firms, industry body set to challenge any anti-dumping measures

China urged the United States to act "prudently" and make a fair ruling on planned anti-dumping duties on Chinese aluminum foil. That is necessary to avoid any potential negative impact of such duties on bilateral trade ties, said the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

The China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association and 12 major aluminum foil producers are preparing to launch a legal challenge to ensure their rights in free trade, a source from Jiangsu Zhongji Lamination Materials Co Ltd, which is involved in the case, said on conditions of anonymity.

"We have received the email from the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association on this issue. We are going to engage law firms to prove there is no actual damage done to the US side," the person said.

Mo Xinda, director of the light metal department at the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, said the process is still under way, but declined to elaborate.

The US Department of Commerce published preliminary findings of a probe on Tuesday, citing that some Chinese foil producers have received subsidies between 16.56 percent and 80.97 percent of their export business.

Punitive duties will be imposed if both the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission make affirmative final rulings.

Some of the US authorities' allegations were "groundless," according to a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Commerce, which was attributed to Wang Hejun, head of the ministry's trade remedy and investigation bureau.

"Ignoring the offers of cooperation from the Chinese government and companies, the US investigative institutions charged groundlessly that Chinese primary aluminum and thermal coal producers were 'public institutions,' and provided 'subsidies' to downstream enterprises," Wang said in the statement.

The US government branches unreasonably labeled Chinese commercial banks as "public institutions", regardless of the fact that they have been market-oriented, Wang said.

Meanwhile, the US is probing to figure if it should curb aluminum imports from China under the rarely used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which would allow restrictions on imports for national security reasons.

The Chinese commerce ministry statement said the country is highly concerned about the action, as these two investigations would have "significant impact" on aluminum trade.

The US aluminum foil imports from China totaled $389 million in 2016, according to data from the US Commerce Department.

China's aluminum industry is market-oriented and commercialized, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a news conference in late July.

Aluminum product manufacturers in China, which is a major exporter, mainly export to countries and regions facing shortages, with a goal to support their local economy, Gao said.

The difficulties facing the aluminum industry are a global problem, a common challenge that needs to be tackled through shared efforts, he said.

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