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18 Steel Pipe Makers Unite Against US Charges
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China's 18 steel pipe producers have teamed up in Beijing to respond to dumping and subsidy charges from their US counterparts, according to a Chinese trade body.

"We are studying the sensitive issue and will provide a press release soon," said Chen Yanshan, an official from China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters, the main initiator of the grouping.

The group of 18 has appointed John Larose from US law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP's Beijing office as attorney. Larose was not available for comment yesterday.

Six US makers of welded standard steel pipes and the United Steelworkers union last week asked the US Commerce Department to impose anti-dumping duties of up to 88 percent and extra countervailing charges on steel pipes from China which they said are being sold at unfairly low and subsidized prices.

They blamed a 68-fold hike in imports from China between 2002 and 2006 for the loss of more than 500 jobs and the closure of four plants in the US.

The US International Trade Commission will make a preliminary decision next month on whether Chinese steel pipes are damaging US companies.

However, an executive from one of the 18 Chinese steel pipe firms, who asked not to be named, yesterday said: "We have thin margins and don't dump products in the US. We can't endure any anti-dumping duties."

Kong Linming, secretary-general of China Steel Pipe Association, an industry body, also refuted the US accusations.

But Kong said the Chinese government will remove tax rebate for steel pipe exports "sooner or later" in an attempt to cut overseas shipment and alleviate trade frictions with other countries.

"Domestic steel pipe producers should make full preparations for the expected cancellation of the tax rebate," Kong told China Daily.

Industry sources said China is likely to remove a 13 percent tax rebate for exports of many kinds of steel pipes next month.

On June 1, the country imposed export tariffs on 82 categories of steel products by 5 to 10 percent and lifted duties on overseas shipment of another 19 categories from 10 to 15 percent.

China's steel products exports surged by 132 percent year-on-year to 21.3 million tons from January to April this year. Exports of steel pipes reached 2.77 million tons, up 120 percent.

(China Daily June 14, 2007)

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