Sun, Jul 31, 2016 - Page 16 News List

China slams higher steel tariffs imposed by EU

AP, BEIJING

Beijing has criticized new European tariffs on Chinese steel as “unjustifiable” protectionism coming just weeks after commerce ministers from G20 nations pledged to promote free trade.

The EU on Friday said it had set definitive anti-dumping duties on certain Chinese steel bars at rates higher than initially proposed, following an investigation last year prompted by complaints from European steelmaking association Eurofer.

The announcement drew an immediate response from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, which said the EU “unfairly” set new tariffs based on higher profit margin targets for European producers.

Fears of a bubbling trade war over steel have dominated G20 talks hosted this year by China. The country — the world’s largest producer and consumer of steel — is looking to host a smooth summit next month in Hangzhou.

In G20 public communiques issued this year, member nations have sought to appear unified, pledging to work together to cut steelmaking capacity at a time when prices are at 10-year lows and struggling mills are closing from Wales to China’s Hebei Province. Prices have plummeted in recent quarters as China’s decades-long construction boom cools.

However, tensions remain high as European member states and steel producers accuse China of issuing unfair subsidies and flooding global markets at below-market prices. Beijing, meanwhile, has denied the accusations and said it is working to cut capacity even though the central government’s efforts to pare down enormous state-owned steelmakers have met some political obstacles.

In a statement on Friday, the ministry said it “regretted” Europe’s protectionist move after a recently concluded G20 trade ministers’ meeting in Shanghai and called on Brussels to “uphold its commitments and avoid sending the wrong signal to the world.”

China, the EU’s second-largest trading partner, has been seeking “market economy status” from Brussels, which would make it harder for the bloc to impose new anti-dumping tariffs.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker this month at the EU-China Summit in Beijing said that he would vigorously defend Europe’s steel industry.

He added that the controversy over Chinese steel exports would shape how whether Brussels would give it the market economy designation.

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