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China counterattack strikes US steel, ali scrap

Mar 23, 2018 | 08:34 AM | Shanghai | Echo Ma

Tags  China, US, Section 232, tariff, import duties, aluminium scrap, seamless steel pipes

China has announced plans to impose tariffs on approximately $3 billion worth of United States-origin goods, including seamless steel pipes and aluminium scrap.

China said it was considering measures to “balance out the losses caused to Chinese interests” by the US’ imposition of blanket tariffs - 25% on steel imports, 10% on aluminium imports - that US President Donald Trump announced following the country’s Section 232 investigation, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce on Friday March 23.

The statement included a list of 128 products under seven categories on which China is proposing to impose tariffs. The list was further divided into two steps of retaliatory action:

  • a possible 15% tariff on 120 products worth almost $1 billion - including fresh fruit, nuts, wine and seamless steel pipes
  • a possible 25% tariff on eight goods worth approximately $2 billion - including pork and aluminium scrap
“If China and the US fail to reach a trade compensation agreement within the stipulated time, China will exercise the right to suspend concessions for the first list of products; China will implement the second list after further evaluating the impact of US measures on China,” the statement said.

The statement gave no date for when the retaliatory measures would take place, but it did say that local businesses and other parties had until March 31 to submit their views about the proposed tariffs, indicating this as a likely date for any retaliatory action to take effect.

China imported 618,287 tonnes of aluminium scrap from the US in 2017, an increase of 8.55% from the prior year, with US-origin material accounting for about 28.5% of China’s total imported aluminium scrap last year, according to Chinese customs data.

“The whole metals industry is watching this issue, especially those in the aluminium market as the metal is on both sides’ lists, but so far I think we just need to wait and see how things go,” an aluminium trader based in Shanghai said.

A risk-off tone enveloped global markets on Friday morning after Trump announced on Thursday that he would impose fresh tariffs amounting to approximately $60 billion on Chinese imports. A list of products that will attract the tariffs will be announced within 15 days, but is expected to include items in aerospace, information technology and machinery.

Base metal prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange traded sharply lower during Asian morning trading on Friday amid growing fears of a global trade war.


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