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January 14, 2017

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US aluminum complaint lacks basis

CHINA yesterday hit back at a United States trade complaint against the country’s aluminum industry, saying the allegation had no basis.

The Obama administration on Thursday launched a new complaint against Chinese aluminum subsidies at the World Trade Organization, accusing China of artificially expanding its global market share with cheap state-directed loans and subsidized energy.

“China gives its aluminum industry an unfair advantage through underpriced loans and other illegal government subsidies,” US President Barack Obama said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

China regrets the US decision to file the complaint but will properly handle the issue according to WTO rules, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.

The ministry said the US complaint “lacked a factual basis.”

“China’s aluminum market is a highly competitive and commercialized industry, and relevant loans and raw material purchases have been fully marketized,” it said, adding that the alleged subsidy problem does not exist.

Overcapacity facing certain industries is a global problem, whose root cause is a tepid global economic growth and weak demand, a common challenge that needs to be tackled through shared efforts, the statement said.

The US Trade Representative’s office said China’s capacity to produce aluminum more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2015, while global prices fell around 46 percent. China now produces more than half of the world’s aluminum.

The complaint, which seeks consultations with Beijing on the matter, is likely to add to rising trade tension between the world’s two largest economies as US President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office next week with pledges to reduce US trade deficits with China as a top priority.

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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