Chinese WTO suit hits back at U.S. duties

Fri May 25, 2012 12:16pm EDT
 
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By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - China launched a complaint at the World Trade Organization on Friday against U.S. import duties on 22 Chinese products that the United States says are unfairly priced or subsidized, including solar panels and steel products.

"China firmly opposes the abuse of trade remedy measures and trade protectionism," China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

China's complaint counter-attacks in areas where the United States has hit Chinese products with punitive tariffs, known as anti-dumping duties or countervailing duties, in recent years.

China said the complaint covers exports worth $7.3 billion, encompassing such diverse products as citric acid, kitchen shelving and lawn groomers. It also includes wind towers, even though the U.S. Commerce Department's preliminary decision on those wind tower imports is not due until next Wednesday.

Just eight days ago the U.S. Commerce Department set punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels, which it said Chinese exporters had dumped on the U.S. market at unfairly low prices.

The United States hit Chinese steel pipe imports with hefty anti-dumping duties in 2010, and later in the same year it launched a trade suit over Chinese government grants to wind power manufacturers, although it did not pursue the case.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Nkenge Harmon, said it was studying the complaint and would respond in accordance with WTO rules.

"The Obama Administration strongly supports the trade remedy laws, and was the first Administration ever to apply a 421 safeguard to imports from China," she said. A 421 safeguard is a U.S. measure that allows manufacturers to request emergency restrictions on Chinese imports in response to a surge.   Continued...