The Chinese government says it will engage in retaliatory action if the US imposes tariffs against imports of aluminium and steel products.
Wang Hejun, chief of China’s trade remedy and investigation bureau at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said via an official statement that the tariff recommendations released by the US Commerce Department on Friday “aren’t consistent with the facts.”
The commerce official said that China would “certainly” adopt necessary measures to protect its own rights should the Trump administration’s final decision impact Chinese interests.
In one of the strongest protectionist moves made by the Trump administration since the presidential election, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week that the US might impose quotas on imports of aluminium and steel, including a tariff of over 24% on all steel imports.
Ross said that one of the recommended options included the levying of a tariff of 53% on steel imports from a list of 12 countries, including China, India, Russia and South Korea.
The US steel industry has been lobbying hard for Trump to step up protectionist measures, with members of the sector complaining that Chinese companies engage in dumping and enjoy an unfair advantage due to government support.
While China has long grappled with overcapacity in its steel sector, exports fell to their lowest levels in nearly five years last month, following an increase in demand as well as efforts by Beijing to reform the state-owned enterprise sector.
China currently accounts for around 1% of US steel imports.