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US Considering Safeguards Against Steel-pipe Products

Chinese steel pipes have become the latest target of US safeguard investigations, according to the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters.

The United States last week launched a probe to see if safeguard measures were warranted against two classes of China-made circular welded non-alloy steel pipes, or standard pipes.

The investigation began after seven US steel pipe producers and two industrial associations filed a petition claiming that a surge in imports of the Chinese products had disturbed the US market order and harmed the industry.

They asked the US Government to set a 9-million-ton quota on the imports of standard pipes and restrict annual growth to less than 5 percent in the next five years.

More than 50 enterprises in China are involved in the investigation, including 20 with an annual export volume of over US$1 million.

Zhang Airong, an official with the chamber of commerce, said Chinese pipe producers were responding to the questionnaires.

She said that although the export volume of certain products was not large, the investigation could well be widened to include additional categories of steel products and more overseas markets.

Zhang explained that safeguard measures pose a greater threat to Chinese exporters than anti-dumping charges- which exporters are more familiar with - because the former involves the whole industry while the latter is targeted at specific companies.

Therefore, Zhang said, firms involved have been encouraged to respond actively and show that there was no disturbance of the market order in the United States.

The US International Trade Commission is scheduled to decide in October whether the market order has been disturbed; and publish the final ruling early next year.

According to the chamber, China's exports of steel products witnessed fast growth in the past few years because of increased capacity but stagnant domestic demand.

In 2004, China exported standard pipes valued some US$110 million to the United States, up 657.5 percent over the previous year.

The figure hit US$87.5 million in the first half of this year, reflecting a 234.6 percent increase.

(China Daily August 19, 2005)

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