Make us your home page
Instagram

U.S. says China unfairly subsidized its aluminum firms

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, under congressional pressure to take a tough stance on Chinese trade policies, determined Tuesday that Beijing unfairly subsidized $514 million in aluminum products last year.

The Commerce Department stopped short of making a stronger ruling on claims by U.S. leaders and manufacturers that an undervalued Chinese currency gives Beijing's exporters a lopsided price advantage.

For the subsidies it deemed unfair, the Commerce Department said it would impose countervailing duties ranging from 6.2 to 137.7 percent of the value of the imported aluminum extrusions, shapes squeezed out of aluminum.

The Obama administration wants to address worries by lawmakers who say the United States is losing jobs because China's currency policy keeps the yuan undervalued against the dollar and makes Chinese products cheaper here. But it also wants to preserve good ties with a country seen as crucial to dealing with global economic and environmental issues and with nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea.

On the politically sensitive currency issue, the Commerce Department refused to investigate allegations that China's currency practices are an unfair subsidy.

The U.S. aluminum companies that requested the duties alleged that the Chinese industry benefited from its currency policy. If Commerce had chosen to investigate the issue and decided that the currency was a subsidy, that could have opened up a wider range of imports to penalty tariffs.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a regular critic of China, said the ruling was incomplete. "The Commerce Department made its finding while still managing to ignore the elephant in the room, which is China's currency manipulation. Even when the opportunity is thrust into its hands, the administration has refused to take action," Schumer said in a statement.

Lawmakers have called for imposing stiff penalties on Chinese imports if China doesn't move more quickly to revalue its currency. The Obama administration, however, has so far focused on targeting individual Chinese industries.

The United States and China are also arguing over access to each other's markets for tires, steel, movies, music and other goods.

"What the administration is doing here is like a pressure valve for the Congress," said Derek Scissors, a specialist on Asian economies at the Heritage Foundation think tank. "It's a natural response to not wanting to infuriate the Chinese on currency but wanting to do something about the fact that China's a trade predator."

The Commerce Department in April launched an investigation into whether certain Chinese aluminum products were being dumped, or sold at improperly low prices, because of government subsidies or other aid. Commerce is set to make its final determination in the aluminum case in November.

The U.S. aluminum companies argued that Chinese aluminum exporters benefited from a range of government help, including tax breaks, low-interest loans from state banks and subsidized rents.

U.S. says China unfairly subsidized its aluminum firms 08/31/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  2. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]