There's More To Current Anti-Dumping Climate Than Latest WTO Findings

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The WTO Secretariat reported that the first half of 2010 saw a 29 percent decrease in anti-dumping initiations of investigations, as well as a sizable decrease in new measures applied, when compared to the same period in 2009.

With the spate of activity in dumping cases between China, the EU and the US since that time period, however, the decrease feels, well, moot.

India reported the most initiations with 17, the EU came in second with eight, while the US reported only two. India was also tops in reporting the applications of new measures with 17, the US came in with five, while the EU submitted two.  (The members to the Committee on Anti-Dumping Practices provide this data from their semi-annual reports.)

China is the top target once again for investigations, leading with 23 new initiations. Ahh, now that’s more like it.

The world’s second-largest economy is batting .500, to use a wholly American cliché, in its two highest-profile anti-dumping cases recently. The WTO rejected China’s claim against the US that the Obama administration’s tariff impositions on light vehicle tires violated rules. Nearly a week earlier, the WTO ruled in favor of the People’s Republic by striking down the EU’s policy to impose a 63% to 87% tariff on Chinese-made steel fasteners the first case China won against the EU.

What concerns us, however, is that industrial metals are still at the center of most cases (the base metals sector accounted for the greatest percentage of new initiations and new measures applied, according to the WTO report). The US imposed new duties on oil country tubular goods stainless alloy products used for drillpipe, casing pipe and tubular applications in the petrol industry and prestressed concrete steel wire strand from China in the first half of 2010. The USW has also taken the lead in pushing for investigation of Chinese imports of aluminum extrusion, Dustin Ensinger writes. According to the union, China controlled 8 percent of that market in 2007, which jumped to 20 percent in 2009. Over that same time, prices of the Chinese imports fell 30 to 50 percent. (Our own Stuart Burns analyzed what this means for the aluminum market back in November.)

With China’s economy growing proportionally much faster to that of the US, their government is ostensibly acting as though they can afford to get away with these types of practices. By taking advantage of the slumping western economy for their gain, they know that slaps on the wrist from the WTO will have minimal effect. It doesn’t look like China will forced to stop their rumbling econo-machine anytime soon; with pressure to feed demand both in their own domestic sphere, and in keeping up exports to meet internal quotas and fuel their GDP, the WTO at times seems nothing more than a minor roadblock.

–Taras Berezowsky

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