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

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Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
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Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
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Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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