Page last updated at 05:11 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

US hits China pipes with tariffs

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (L) and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan in Hangzhou - 29 October 2009
Both sides are keen not to let the trade disputes affect the relationship

The US Commerce Department has imposed anti-dumping tariffs of up to 99% on imports of Chinese tubular goods.

The department alleged China had been selling its oil well pipes at prices that were much lower than normal.

The announcement is the latest in a series of trade disputes between the US and China, which called the move an "abuse of protectionist measures".

The move comes 10 days before President Barack Obama is due to make his first visit to China since taking office.

He will be in China from 15-18 November.

In September, the United States announced it would impose duties on Chinese-made tyres to protect local US industry, sparking the first major trade dispute of Obama's presidency.

Simmering tensions

The US commerce department said it has "determined that Chinese producers/exporters have sold OCTG (oil country tubular goods) in the United States at prices ranging from zero to 99.14% less than normal value".

The department said that imports of OCTG from China were valued at an estimated $2.6bn (£1.6bn) in 2008.

Several US companies and a major labour union had petitioned the Commerce Department to examine Chinese under-pricing of the tubes, which include a variety of steel and iron products.

China vowed to protect its industrial interests and called for the US to give "equal and fair treatment to Chinese firms".

"China resolutely opposes the abuse of protectionist measures, and will take measures to protect the interests of our domestic industry," said a statement issued by the the Ministry of Commerce.

Beijing has filed a World Trade Organisation challenge to US anti-dumping duties on certain types of steel pipes, pneumatic off-road tyres and woven sacks.

It has also requested consultations on the duties imposed on Chinese-made tyres, a preliminary step towards a WTO complaint.

China launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into imports of US chicken parts and automotive parts, in response to the US tyre duties.

In August, a WTO panel found in favour of the United States, which claimed that Chinese curbs on importing and distributing foreign publications and audiovisual products violated its WTO commitments.

US and Chinese officials held talks in China in October on trade, clean energy and climate change amid the simmering trade disputes in several areas, claims of protectionism and a wide US trade deficit with China.

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