China has criticised new United States anti-dumping duties on aluminium foil, saying it was “extremely dissatisfied” with the new measures, just days before President Trump visits Beijing. The tariff was announced Friday by the US following concern that China was undercutting American manufacturers by flooding the country with underpriced aluminium products. But the timing has raised fears of a trade dispute during Trump’s first visit as president to the Chinese capital next week, when commerce between the nations is expected to be high on the agenda. On Saturday evening, China’s Ministry of Commerce said the US was ignoring World Trade Organization rules by introducing the duties, and not fulfilling its international obligations. “The US is not only harming the interests of Chinese companies, it is also damaging the seriousness and authority of multilateral rules and regulations,” said Wang Hejun, Director of the Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, in a statement.
The US Commerce Department plans to impose fresh duties of 96.81 per cent to 162.24 on Chinese aluminium foil imports to the US. The new tariff will affect the type of aluminium foil found in kitchens, packaging and automobiles. Since assuming the presidency in January, Trump has largely refrained from taking the hard-nosed measures he boasted about on the campaign trail, where he threatened to label China a “currency manipulator”. But his administration has started to take a tougher line on trade. The Trump administration has initiated 77 antidumping and countervailing duty investigations since January, up 61 percent since last year, the Commerce Department said on Friday.
Trade is likely to be high on Trump’s agenda during the visit. Last week, he tweeted he had discussed North Korea and trade in a phone call with President Xi, calling them “two very important subjects!” In September, China’s monthly trade surplus with the United States hit a high not seen in at least three years. The Ministry of Commerce’s statement said the US was using “discriminatory” surrogate country pricing practices to introduce the duties, which it said were no longer applicable to China as of December, 2016.