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Chinese pipe exports hit US tariffs

THE United States Commerce Department announced its decision to impose final countervailing duties ranging from 10.36 to 15.78 percent on imports of Chinese oil pipes in Washington yesterday.

It involves US$2.7 billion of Chinese-made steel pipes used in oil wells - the highest value case in the escalating trade tussles between the two countries.

The department said it found Chinese producers of the pipe received government subsidies ranging from 10.36 percent to 15.78 percent, which meant Chinese companies involved in this case will receive similar duties.

The decision is the final ruling by the US Commerce Department. China will probably seek mediation through the World Trade Organization, said Wu Xinchun, deputy secretary general of the China Iron and Steel Association, according to Bloomberg News.

But to his relief, final duties were cut from an average 21.3 percent tariff set in September, after US President Barack Obama pledged to ease trade tensions in his first visit to China last week.

"No matter what the final duty is, we think the character of this action is pure trade protectionism," Wu said. "The duty, if applied, will seriously hurt Chinese exports of steel pipe next year and, even worse, it sets a bad example and may trigger other nations to follow suit."

The countervailing and anti-dumping petition for Chinese pipes was filed in April this year by the United Steelworkers union. The US Commerce Department in September agreed an averaging 21.3 percent countervailing duty in a preliminary determination and endorsed an anti-dumping duty of up to 99.14 percent earlier this month.

According to the procedure, the case will be sent to the US International Trade Commission, which will give its final ruling on January 7.

Tariffs have been a source of tension between the US and China after the Obama administration decided to collect punitive duties on Chinese tires in September.

The trade disputes have been spreading to poultry, auto parts, audio video products and raw materials.


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