China 'to protect its businesses' after fresh United States trade probe

US Sets China Aluminum Probe as It Presses on Trade

The Trump administration took unusual action against what it said were unfair Chinese trade practices on Tuesday, dusting off a weapon last used in 1991 and announcing two investigations into the pricing of aluminum products imported into the United States. China responded Wednesday by saying the move was "rare in the history of worldwide trade".

Administration officials are weighing whether to invoke national security considerations to combat rising Chinese steel and aluminum imports more broadly, a move trade analysts fear could trigger a wave of similar measures by USA trading partners.

Ross told USA aluminum industry executives on a conference call that Commerce has evidence that China's aluminum producers were selling flat-rolled sheet products in the United States at prices below fair value and were benefiting from unfair government subsidies.

When China joined the WTO it was not classed as a market economy, so the global trade body calculated whether Chinese goods were being sold below cost based on the cost of similar goods in another country that did meet the market economy criteria.

The Trump administration launched an aggressive new trade action against imports of Chinese aluminum alloy sheet on Tuesday, the first USA -initiated anti-subsidy and anti-dumping probes in decades, drawing a strong reaction from Beijing.

China could view the Commerce Department action as a deliberate escalation of trade tensions and impose its own trade barriers against USA companies, he said. This investigation "was logical after the implementation of duties on foil, both countervailing duties and anti-dumping duties", he said said Tuesday by phone. In recent years, US and Chinese officials repeatedly discussed potential remedies for the excess aluminum including at a September 2016 summit between Xi and President Barack Obama.

That figure would be 1.3% of China's primary aluminum output of 31.9 million tons in 2016. Higher domestic prices drove overseas shipments in October to their lowest levels since February. Although the Trump-Xi summit was cordial, the US president has been widely expected to increase pressure on the Chinese government to reduce America's huge trade deficit.

The case is expected to follow the normal process of a Commerce Department anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation, subject to injury reviews by the independent U.S. International Trade Commission.

But the Trump administration has embraced a more go-it-alone approach.

"President Trump made it clear from day one that unfair trade practices will not be tolerated under this administration, and today we take one more step in fulfilling that promise".

Century Aluminum erased earlier losses to climb 7.3% in New York Tuesday, the biggest gain since August. In Hong Kong, shares of Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the listed unit of the nation's top state-owned smelter, fell 1.7% on Wednesday. Late last month, the US slapped preliminary anti-dumping tariffs on foil from China - also on anti-dumping grounds. In doing so, the president invoked the seldom-used Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which gives him power to impose tariffs on products that present a security risk.

Tuesday's actions may signal the move from rhetoric to action Trump's supporters have craved.

Vazquez at Harbor Intelligence says he thinks the self-initiated probe will effectively eliminate chances of Trump following through with 232.

This summer, the Trump administration also said it would investigate intellectual property theft by China.

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