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China warns Trump over potential steel and aluminum tariffs

China is warning President Trump that it will take action if he puts heavy tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum....

Posted: Feb 18, 2018 8:29 AM
Updated: Feb 18, 2018 8:29 AM

China is warning President Trump that it will take action if he puts heavy tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday recommended that Trump impose measures against foreign suppliers of the metals in the name of national security, the latest sign of a tougher stance on trade by the administration.

Trump has until mid-April to decide what to do.

"If the United States' final decision affects China's interests, we will take necessary measures to defend our rights," said Wang Hejun, a senior official at China's Commerce Ministry, according to a report Saturday by state-run news agency Xinhua.

The short article didn't provide further details on how Beijing might respond. Ross' recommendations came in the middle of China's Lunar New Year holiday when government offices and businesses largely shut down for a week.

Related: Trump administration recommends steep tariffs on steel and aluminum

Experts have warned that trade tensions are likely to rise this year between the U.S. and China, the world's two largest economies, as Trump decides how to act on a series of investigations his administration launched last year.

He already imposed tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines, which affect businesses in China and many other countries. China and some other big exporters have filed cases with the World Trade Organization over that move.

The fear for some American businesses is that more U.S. trade actions could prompt Beijing to respond with tit-for-tat measures against U.S. companies that rely on its huge market.

Related: Trump-China trade war: Who has the most to lose?

Since Trump's move on solar panels and washing machines, China has announced it is investigating U.S. exports of sorghum, an agricultural product, and imposing measures on styrene, which is used to make plastic products.

If Beijing wanted to really turn up the heat, experts say it could take steps against American exports of soybeans, of which it bought $14 billion worth in 2016, or planes made by Boeing. It could also make life difficult inside China for major U.S. companies like Apple and Intel.

But Chinese leaders are also conscious that any of these moves would also have a knock-on impact on its own economy. Chinese farmers need American soybeans to feed their livestock, and the country's rapidly growing aviation industry is ordering a lot of Boeing jetliners to help meet demand.

China, whose economy has benefited tremendously from its aggressive efforts to take advantage of global commerce, would prefer to avoid an escalating spat with its biggest trading partner.

Related: China: Cheap American grain is hurting our farmers

The Chinese Commerce Ministry on Saturday urged the U.S. to "exercise restraint in using trade protection tools, and observe multilateral rules," according to the Xinhua report.

Wang, who's leads the ministry's trade remedy and investigation bureau, said the findings of the U.S. report on steel and aluminum were "groundless."

Outside experts agree with that to some extent. They said Ross' investigation didn't provide evidence that imported steel is a risk to U.S. national security and warned that his recommendations set a dangerous precedent.

But China has long been criticized by analysts, industry groups and government officials in the U.S. and Europe for dumping cheaply produced steel and aluminum on global markets at rock bottom prices.

Hundreds of U.S. sanctions have helped reduce Chinese steel imports, but they haven't forced China to play by the rules.

China is no longer among the top 10 steel exporters to the U.S., but it has been accused of routing its steel through other countries, such as Vietnam.

-- Patrick Gillespie and Serenitie Wang contributed to this report.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto952799
Hinds9520193
Harrison6801105
Jackson6043116
Rankin521996
Lee477094
Madison4595102
Forrest360685
Jones341687
Lauderdale3340142
Lafayette312047
Washington3043106
Lamar273849
Bolivar237583
Oktibbeha237460
Lowndes227562
Neshoba2170113
Panola210347
Marshall206547
Leflore200389
Pontotoc192527
Monroe188877
Sunflower188754
Lincoln183664
Warren171757
Tate163049
Pike159958
Union159025
Copiah158840
Yazoo149538
Scott149429
Coahoma146742
Itawamba144433
Simpson143153
Alcorn142724
Pearl River142067
Prentiss138426
Grenada135844
Adams134148
Leake131643
Holmes124261
George121523
Tippah120430
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Winston115824
Wayne115522
Hancock113337
Marion109046
Attala106133
Tishomingo105542
Newton102829
Chickasaw102132
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88153
Clay86226
Jasper80421
Walthall73728
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Stone71014
Carroll70114
Lawrence69814
Noxubee68917
Smith68616
Yalobusha67626
Perry63925
Tunica59519
Greene58222
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis53817
Humphreys52318
Amite50714
Benton48217
Quitman4766
Webster41614
Kemper40615
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson33511
Franklin3155
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1094
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 232506

Reported Deaths: 3457
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30318491
Mobile19260356
Tuscaloosa12446148
Madison12204146
Montgomery12000232
Shelby971276
Baldwin819984
Lee750464
Morgan610447
Calhoun5964113
Etowah585764
Marshall579453
Houston503338
DeKalb460835
Cullman409636
Limestone400844
St. Clair396055
Elmore391061
Lauderdale378353
Walker348096
Talladega334042
Colbert294341
Jackson290524
Blount275436
Autauga261739
Franklin243633
Coffee230315
Dale225454
Dallas219631
Russell21753
Chilton216137
Covington212333
Escambia194031
Tallapoosa168590
Chambers167548
Clarke154919
Pike154714
Marion133935
Winston122523
Lawrence121436
Geneva11678
Marengo116424
Barbour116010
Pickens114118
Bibb113617
Butler113341
Randolph99521
Cherokee98524
Hale91531
Washington89818
Clay88823
Henry8386
Fayette83116
Lowndes78529
Monroe76811
Cleburne74214
Crenshaw70030
Macon69420
Bullock68919
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Wilcox62318
Lamar6227
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene39917
Coosa3064
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