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China Asks WTO To Review EU Anti-Dumping Measures

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

15 October 2009

The Chinese government has requested a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel on European Union (EU) anti-dumping measures on imports of certain iron and steel fasteners from China.

The anti-dumping measures concerned were notified in the Official Journal of the European Union on January 31, 2009, and imposed duties at rates of up to 85% on imports of iron and steel fasteners, such as nuts, bolts and washers, originating in China. The duties are applicable for five years from entry into force.

The Chinese mission to the WTO has confirmed that a letter has been sent to the chairman of the trade organization's dispute resolution body. The mission said that it "opposes firmly … any abuse of trade remedy measures and any promotion of trade protectionism," according to state news agency Xinhua.

However, according to the EU, its own investigation found that Chinese producers of fasteners "benefited from artificially low prices on raw materials" and therefore anti-dumping duties were justified in order to "re-establish fair trade" in the products.

Previous attempts by the two sides to resolve the dispute, in July and September, failed, and a ruling by the dispute resolution panel is not expected to be forthcoming for at least six months.

Responding to China's decision to refer the matter to the WTO, the European Commission's spokesperson for trade, Lutz Guellner, said: "China’s claim that the EU is not fulfilling its obligations under the WTO Agreements is unfounded. In all anti-dumping cases, the European Commission strictly follows the applicable EU rules which are in full compliance with the terms of the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement. This is also the case for the measures on which China is now seeking a panel."

He added: "Anti-dumping measures are not about protectionism, they are about fighting unfair trade. The decision to impose measures was taken on the basis of clear evidence that dumping of Chinese products has taken place and that this dumping is harming otherwise competitive EU industry. As a member of the World Trade Organization, China has of course the right to bring its concerns to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, and we will engage in the process and defend the measures in Geneva."

Trade tensions between East and West have been on the rise in recent times. In June, the EU and the US announced that they were making a formal complaint to the WTO over Chinese export tariffs and quotas in respect of up to 20 categories of raw material – mainly metals and chemicals. Then, in August, it was announced that EU member states had approved a Commission proposal to impose punitive tariffs ranging from 18% to 40% on the import of steel pipes from China. The EC has also approved an extension to tariffs imposed on shoes imported from China and Vietnam.

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