Ruling comes after U.S. industry argues products are diverted to avoid duties.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing often points out that China’s profligate steel production is the leading cause of global steel overcapacity, and that efforts should be made to safeguard the domestic industry from a flood of imports.
Busters, meanwhile, often say China doesn’t export much steel to the United States.
But that’s in part because China is running certain steel products through third-party countries where they are superficially processed, and then sent to the United States for sale.
It’s basically a clever way to avoid tariffs assigned by the U.S. Commerce Department on certain Chinese steel products.
That’s what Commerce decided today, when it assigned duties to steel products from Vietnam. Reuters reports:
The Commerce Department said it would apply the same Chinese anti-dumping and anti-subsidy rates on corrosion-resistant and cold-rolled steel from Vietnam that starts out as Chinese-made hot-rolled steel.
Although the product was processed in Vietnam to be made corrosion resistant or cold-rolled for use in autos or appliances, the Commerce Department agreed with the claims of American producers that as much as 90 percent of the product’s value originated from China.
And get this:
The Commerce Department said that after anti-dumping duties were imposed on Chinese steel products in 2015, shipments of cold-rolled steel from Vietnam into the United States shot up to $295 million annually from $11 million.
The U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, recently told CNBC that President Trump was firm regarding the bilateral trade gap in discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
We sure hope so. Making sure pass-through countries aren’t facilitating China’s steel overcapacity is a good move, but they should really just step up with a tough Section 232 ruling already.