U.S. Trade Panel Approves Case Against China May 19, 2010

Reuters reported that US trade panel approved a Commerce Department investigation that could lead to duties on hundreds of millions of dollars of aluminum goods from China.

The US International Trade Commission voted 6-0 that there was enough evidence that US producers of aluminum extrusions used in the auto industry and other sectors have been harmed by the imports to proceed with the probe.

The United States imported more than USD 500 million of the goods from China in 2009. The Commerce Department launched its investigation last month after receiving a petition from US producers complaining of unfair Chinese practices.

The manufacturers have asked for anti dumping duties of roughly 33% to offset what they says are below market prices on the Chinese made product. They also want additional duties to offset Chinese government subsidies. The Commerce Department will set preliminary duties in coming months and final duties within a year or so. The ITC will vote a second time and could strike down any duties.

US construction and automobile industries are two of the biggest consumers of aluminum extrusions, which are made by squeezing heated aluminum into a mold. Uses include doors and window frames, structural framing systems, roofing and exterior cladding. The case follows a number of other US industry complaints against their Chinese competitors and comes just before US Commerce Secretary Mr Gary Locke is headed to China on a trade mission to promote US clean energy exports.

At a briefing ahead of that trip, Mr Locke defended US anti dumping and countervailing duty actions against Chinese charges that they were protectionist.

He said that the US only takes action when an industry files a petition and wins a decision in its favor. Also, less than 3% of US imports from China have been hit by anti dumping or countervailing duties.

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