Fri, Jan 13, 2017 - Page 10 News List

US to file WTO complaint over China aluminum


US President Barack Obama’s administration was yesterday expected to launch a complaint against Chinese aluminum subsidies with the WTO, a person familiar with the matter said.

The complaint is likely to add to rising trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies as US president-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office next week, with pledges to cut US trade deficits with China as a top priority.

The complaint, which was to be filed by the US Trade Representative’s office, was expected to cite “artificially cheap loans” from Chinese banks and artificially low-priced inputs for Chinese aluminum makers, including electricity, coal and alumina.

It was to cite such subsidies as contributing to excess Chinese capacity and hurting US workers and companies, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case had not yet been filed.

The pending complaint follows an October request for a WTO case against China’s aluminum trade practices by two US senators from Ohio, home to several US aluminum producers, and six other senators.

China has rapidly expanded its aluminum production capacity in recent years and currently produces more than half the world’s aluminum. This has driven price declines that have reduced the number of operating US aluminum smelters to five from 14 since 2008, causing the loss of 15,000 US aluminum production jobs, the senators said in October.

“When China drives down aluminum costs by cheating, Ohio workers and manufacturers pay the price,” US Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

“Thousands have lost jobs because of unfairly subsidized aluminum from China that has flooded the market and led to overcapacity, and it’s past time we get tough on these violations before more American workers suffer,” Brown said.

According to the person familiar with the complaint, the US would request consultations with China to address concerns over its subsidies.

The complaint is the 16th brought against China before the WTO during the eight years of the Obama administration over issues ranging from tariffs on broiler chickens to tax rebates for small domestic aircraft and export duties on key Chinese raw materials.

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