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WTO to hear anti-dumping complaint
Published on: 2012-09-18
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China filed a World Trade Organization case yesterday challenging US anti-dumping measures on billions of dollars of kitchen appliances, paper and other goods.
China's move came before the Obama administration filed its own WTO case accusing China of improperly subsidizing exports of automobiles and auto parts.
China and the US have clashed over complaints about market barriers and subsidies for goods including vehicles, solar panels, tires, steel and chicken. Political pressures on both sides are worsening as demand for their goods cools, raising the threat of job losses in export industries.
As campaigning for the US presidency intensifies ahead of a November vote, US President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have traded barbs on China, accusing each other of backing policies that would move American jobs overseas.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said its latest WTO complaint centers on the US Congress's passage of a law this year that retroactively gave the Commerce Department power to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods.
That came after a US court reversed earlier duties imposed under rules covering countries such as China and Vietnam that are deemed to be "non-market economies."
"This practice puts Chinese enterprises in an uncertain legal environment, in violation of the relevant rules of the WTO transparency and due process," said ministry spokesman Shen Danyang in a statement.
The ministry said US measures being challenged cover 24 types of products worth US$7.2 billion. It gave no details, but a statement from the WTO in Geneva said they include paper, steel, tires, magnets, chemicals, kitchen appliances, wood flooring and wind towers.
The Chinese filing requests consultations to settle the dispute, the first stage in a WTO complaint. If no resolution is found after 60 days, China can ask for the case to be handed over to a WTO panel for judgment. Depending on the outcome, China might be allowed to request sanctions.
The US yesterday filed its second car-related complaint against China at the WTO since Obama began his re-election campaign, accusing it of illegally subsidizing exports of automobiles and auto parts.
The US claims the aid amounted to at least US$1 billion between 2009 and 2011 and benefited as much as 60 percent of Chinese car-parts exports. The subsidies put US manufacturers at a disadvantage, encouraging outsourcing to China, the US said.
The US announced the complaint as Obama campaigns in Ohio, a key battleground state in the November 6 election, with 54,200 people employed in the car-parts industry and 12.4 percent of the state's total employment related to the auto sector. 
Romney, who opposed the 2009 government bailout of the auto industry, has stepped up accusations that Obama is timid on China and said yesterday's complaint was inadequate.
In July, Washington filed a WTO case challenging anti-subsidy tariffs imposed by Beijing on imports of American automobiles. Chinese authorities imposed the charges after concluding the financial rescue of General Motors Co and Chrysler LLC violated rules against subsidies.
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