Wed, Mar 27, 2002 - Page 17 News List

China looks into reports of dumping

STEEL Although Beijing has a right to investigate complaints by producers, it's also required to inform Taiwan's WTO authorities, which it has failed to do

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH BLOOMBERG, BEIJING

Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章), Taiwan's ambassador to the WTO, said yesterday that China should consult with Taiwan over its launch of an investigation into claims of dumping by its steel producers.

The request came on the heels of reports that Beijing has launched an investigation into whether imports of cold-rolled steel products from Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan constitute dumping.

The investigation followed complaints by Shanghai Baosteel Group Corp (上海寶山鋼鐵), Wuhan Iron & Steel Co (武漢鋼鐵) and Anshan Iron & Steel Group (鞍山鋼鐵) in December, said Wang Qing, a Chinese trade ministry official in charge of the probe.

"We have to respond to the complaints and investigate the case under procedures laid out under the WTO," Wang said.

The overseas steelmakers will have until April 12 to respond to the ministry's investigation, which will run until March 23, 2003, Wang said.

Yen, who was sworn in as Taiwan's first representative to the WTO's headquarters in Geneva by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday, said the organization's rules made it clear that all concerned members be informed of any investigation.

"We are entitled to be consulted by the Chinese government and that's a matter I will certainly take back to Geneva where I will bring the case before the secretariat of the WTO," Yen said.

According to the WTO's Anti-Dumping Agreement, members must be consulted by any other member that initiates an anti-dumping investigation, he said

Article 6 of the agreement states: "To ensure the transparency of proceedings, authorities are required to disclose the information on which determinations are to be based to interested parties and provide them with adequate opportunity to comment."

The agreement also "establishes the rights of parties to participate in the investigation, including the right to meet with parties with adverse interests."

Wayne Wu (吳文雅), director general of the Board of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said that Taipei would offer assistance to domestic steel companies if needed, adding that there wouldn't necessarily need to be direct official dialogue between the two national governments.

The three companies identified in the investigation -- China Steel Corp (中鋼), Kao Hsing Chang Iron and Steel Corp (高興昌) and Sheng Yu Steel Co (盛餘) -- are capable of handling the charges on their own, Wu said.

Yen said he was unsure whether Beijing would attempt to handle the matter as a domestic issue based on its assumption that Taiwan is a part of China.

"I'm not quite sure whether this type of dialogue would amount to so-called dialogue between two countries ... but certainly you can see that the interaction between China and Taiwan within the multilateral framework of the WTO cannot be described as domestic," he said.

A spokeswoman for China Steel, Taiwan's largest steel producer, said that senior executives had been informed by the Chinese of the investigation and that the company would be seeking legal advice on how to respond.

The spokesperson said that any penalties imposed on Taiwan wouldn't seriously impact China Steel because the percentage of cold-rolled steel products sold across the Taiwan Strait was comparatively small.

China Steel exported 193,000 tonnes of cold-rolled steel to China last year. Total exports of the product were 3.8 million tonnes, the spokesperson said.

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