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China targets US, EU with rubber trade case

China targets US, EU with rubber trade case
April 19, 2018

BEIJING (AFP)- China announced on Thursday it would impose temporary anti-dumping measures on synthetic rubber imported from the United States, the European Union and Singapore.

The case could stoke the simmering tit-for-tat trade tiff between Beijing and Washington, with each side having made threats of more duties on billions of dollars worth of goods.

China's commerce ministry repeated that the two sides were not negotiating on the issue -- appearing to contradict US President Donald Trump's claim last week that the two sides were having "great discussions" on trade.

"The two sides have not conducted any bilateral negotiations on the US's section 301 investigation or the US's proposed list of Chinese products to tax," ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a regular press briefing.

The US section 301 investigation focuses on what Washington describes as Beijing's intellectual property breaches, including a failure to respect foreign patent holders.

When asked if China had underestimated the Trump administration's resolve on trade, Gao shot back: "We hope the US will not underestimate China's resolve."

He warned that Beijing would fight back against any "erroneous scheme" by the US that would attempt to "contain China's development and force China to yield".

"On the surface the US's actions are targeting China, but actually it is harming itself," Gao said.

The anti-dumping measures on rubber come after an initial investigation by China's commerce ministry found evidence the countries were dumping the halo-isobutene-isoprene rubber.

Importers were directed to place deposits with China's customs department ranging in amount from 26 percent to 66.5 percent of the goods' cost -- to be applied against the imposed tariffs if the ministry finds dumping in its final ruling.

The dumping did "substantial damage" to China's domestic industry, the commerce ministry said in a statement.

The US and Singapore are China's main foreign sources of the synthetic rubber, with imports from the two countries respectively totalling $153 million and $115 million last year.

It follows a similar case from Tuesday when China decided to slap provisional anti-dumping duties on imports of US sorghum.