Factbox: China-U.S. trade disputes pile up

(Reuters) – Tension in trade and investment between China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, has been rising against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty.

Below is a list of some of the Sino-U.S. trade disputes affecting various economic sectors, arranged in order of the most recent.


December 14, 2011 — China’s Commerce Ministry set punitive duties of up to 22 percent on large cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUV) exported from the United States. U.S. lawmakers promptly urged President Barack Obama’s administration to challenge the measures.

China had launched its investigation in 2009 following American duties on Chinese seamless steel pipe.


December 2011 — The United States asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to strike down China’s heavy anti-dumping duties on U.S. chicken products.

The WTO had earlier ruled against a U.S. congressional gag order that banned regulators from discussing cooked chicken imports with their Chinese counterparts. The gag order was replaced by a requirement that regulators begin discussions.

U.S. breeders like Tyson Foods Inc sell chicken feet and wings, virtually worthless in the U.S. market, to China, where they are hugely popular, helping pad their profit margin on each chicken. They have supported the Chinese food industry’s bid to cook and can chicken for export to the U.S.


December 2011 — The Commerce Department announced a preliminary 22.34 percent countervailing duty and added additional preliminary duties of 5 to 26 percent on high-pressure steel cylinders from China to protect the only remaining U.S. producer of the product, Norris Cylinder Co.


November 2011 — U.S. solar panel makers asked their government to impose stiff duties on Chinese-made solar energy products that they said unfairly undercut prices and destroy thousands of American jobs.


November 2011 — China announced an investigation into U.S. government policy and subsidies for renewable energy, wind energy, solar and hydro technology products, two weeks after the U.S. decided to investigate sales of Chinese-made solar panels.


October 2011 — The U.S. Senate passed a bill that allows companies to seek countervailing duties on goods from countries with undervalued currencies, in legislation that clearly targets China.

Top Obama administration officials have criticized China’s currency practices, saying the country’s efforts to keep its currency artificially low create an unfair trade advantage.


October 2011 — The U.S. Commerce Department set preliminary anti-dumping duties of up to 193.54 percent on about $80 million of steel wheels from China.

A final decision is due in January 2012.


September 2011 — China lost its appeal over a 35 percent “safeguard” duty on Chinese-made tires imposed by the Obama administration in September 2009.

The original U.S. complaint was brought by the steelworkers’ union. It was the first time the Obama administration invoked the safeguard clause agreed to when China entered the WTO.


September 2011 — The United States set anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties ranging up to 313.8 percent on coated paper from China. The paper is used in the printing of corporate annual reports, high-end catalogs and magazines, and other such applications.

In 2011, the European Union assessed its first-ever anti-subsidy duties against China, also on coated paper.


July 2011 — The WTO ruled that Chinese export restrictions, including taxes and quotas, on several raw materials unfairly raise international prices, while keeping input costs lower for manufacturers in China.

China said in August it would appeal the ruling, which threatens its defense for similar controls on rare earths.


June 2011 — China agreed to stop subsidizing wind power firms that use domestic equipment in place of imports, after the United States requested WTO consultations over the Chinese subsidies.


March 2011 — The WTO overturned on appeal a ruling that had supported U.S. anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs against Chinese steel pipe, woven sacks and off-road tires. The Chinese argued that the United States could not simultaneously use other markets to determine the fair price of goods made in China, deemed a non-market economy, and penalize it for state subsidies.

While the Chinese won the appeal the WTO found in favor of the U.S. view that discounted land, electricity and loan prices constituted a subsidy. It also found that while not all state-owned enterprises are “public bodies,” state-owned banks can be so considered.

Those arguments are likely to be used by the U.S. in future anti-subsidy cases against Chinese state-owned firms.


February 2011 — The United States asked the WTO to rule on its allegation that China imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties of more than 100 percent on imports of grain-oriented flat-rolled electrical steel, without sufficient evidence of unfair pricing practices or government subsidies.


February 2011 — The United States accused China in a WTO complaint of creating a monopoly in its electronic payments market, allowing China Union Pay to handle most credit and debit card transactions made by Chinese consumers.


October 2010 — The United States set final duties ranging up to 61 percent on hundreds of millions of dollars of copper pipe and tube from China.


November 2009 — The United States imposed anti-dumping duties ranging from 48.99 percent to 98.74 percent on seamless steel pipe from China. It also slapped countervailing duties of 13.66 percent to 53.65 percent on the pipe, used in the oil and gas industry.


December 2009 — China lost its appeal of a WTO ruling that its curbs on importing and distributing foreign publications and audiovisual products violate its WTO commitments.

Beijing accepted the ruling in July 2010, and U.S. industry groups are closely watching how it complies.

In two related cases, the WTO ruled that China could censor content but could not establish monopoly importers for foreign media that is already widely available in pirated form.

(Compiled by Lucy Hornby and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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