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Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 09:34

US sets steep duties on Chinese cold-rolled steel

By Reuters

WASHINGTON - The United States slapped Chinese steelmakers with final import duties of 522 percent on cold-rolled flat steel on Tuesday after finding that their products were being sold in the US market below cost and with unfair subsidies.

The US Commerce Department said the duties effectively will increase by more than five-fold the import prices on Chinese-made cold-rolled flat steel products, which totaled US$272.3 million in 2015.

Cold-rolled steel is primarily used in automotive body panels, appliances, shipping containers and construction.

The rulings by the Commerce Department come amid escalating US-China trade tensions, especially in the steel sector, where both US and European producers claim China has distorted world pricing by dumping its excess output abroad as demand at home slows.

The original complaint was filed in July 2015 by major US producers United States Steel, AK Steel Corp, ArcelorMittal USA, Nucor Corp and Steel Dynamics Inc. US steel producers say they have laid off some 12,000 US workers in the past year.

Commerce also levied final anti-dumping duties against Japanese-made cold-rolled steel of 71.35 percent, upholding preliminary findings. About US$138.6 million of these products were imported from Japan last year.

Chinese companies affected by the duties include Baosteel Group, Angang Group Hong Kong Holdings Ltd, and Benxi Iron and Steel (Group) Special Steel Co Ltd. Among Japanese producers affected are Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp and JFE Steel Corp.

For Chinese cold-rolled steel imports, Commerce upheld its preliminary anti-dumping duties of 265.79 percent, but increased its preliminary anti-subsidy duties to 256.44 percent from 227.29 percent.

In a separate case, US Steel is seeking to halt all imports from China's top steelmakers.

In a complaint to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), the US steelmaker called on regulators to investigate dozens of Chinese producers and their distributors for allegedly conspiring to fix prices, stealing trade secrets and circumventing trade duties by false labeling.

Beijing has defended itself against the allegations, saying it has done enough to reduce steel capacity and blaming global excess and weak demand for the industry's woes.

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