Beijing warns on trade tensions as it aims at US chemical

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Beijing warns on trade tensions as it aims at US chemical. AFP

BEIJING (AFP) – Trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies rose again yesterday as Beijing accused Washington of “excessive protectionism” after targeting imports of a key chemical from the US.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has brought a range of commerce cases against China, sparking fears of a trade war.

“China is concerned about the US’s serious trend towards trade protectionism in steel products,” the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement, and “calls on the US to restrain itself from using trade restriction measures”.

More than half of the US’s protective tariffs are related to steel, it noted.

A director of the ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau Wang Hejun was quoted as saying that “repeated and excessive protectionism” often “brings about a vicious circle”.

The statement followed news late Monday that Beijing had taken aim at imports of a key chemical from the US.

The commerce ministry said it had found dumping of styrene imports from the US, Taiwan and South Korea, in an initial ruling during a continuing trade investigation into the chemical.

Dumping, or selling goods at unfairly low prices abroad, can undercut domestic markets at the expense of local industries.

“Mainland China’s styrene industry has suffered substantial harm,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that dumping was the cause of this.

The initial ruling called for importers to place anti-dumping deposits of five to 10.7 percent with China’s customs administration.

Those deposits will be applied to tariffs if the ministry decides in a final ruling to levy such duties.

Styrene is the building block of many plastics. It is used to make foam packaging and many disposable plastics.

Last year China imported 3.2 million tonnes of the chemical worth more than $4 billion from the US.

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