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China-US relations

US puts slaps new duties on Chinese aluminium imports as Trump gears up for trip to Beijing

White House moves to counteract ‘unfair’ practices as President prepares for Asia tour

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 8:34pm

The United States on Friday imposed fresh import duties on Chinese aluminium, accusing exporters of dumping their product on the US market at prices below cost.

The move follows a Commerce Department decision in August that also imposed import duties to counteract alleged unfair Chinese subsidies in the aluminium foil industry.

President Donald Trump is due to visit China as part of an 11-day trip to Asia beginning next week.

The Trump administration has aggressively pursued trade remedies in commercial relations with Beijing – investigating Chinese policies on intellectual property and in the aluminium and steel sectors on national security grounds.

Perceived Chinese misdeeds in commerce were a mainstay of Trump’s populist campaign for the White House but since taking office he has refrained from labelling Beijing a currency manipulator.

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Annually, the US runs a steep trade deficit in goods with China of about US$350 billion.

In 2016, US imports of Chinese aluminium were estimated at $389 million, according to the Commerce Department.

In a statement on Friday, the Commerce Department said an investigation had reached the preliminary determination that Chinese exporters were moving products at dumping margins of between 96.8 per cent and 162.2 per cent.

As a result, the department had instructed US Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers based on those rates.

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In August, the Commerce Department put preliminary countervailing duties of between 16.6 per cent and 81 per cent on Chinese aluminium foil imports from two of the same Chinese companies: Dingsheng Aluminium Industries (Hong Kong) Trading Co Ltd and Jiangsu Zhongji Lamination Materials Co Ltd.

Countervailing duties are meant to counteract unfair subsidies on imported goods while anti-dumping duties apply to products sold at less than fair value.

A final decision is due in the countervailing case in December and in April for the anti-dumping duties.