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China-targeted probes rise

Updated: 2013-04-09 00:03
By Li Jiabao ( China Daily)

Exporters lose $963m in the first quarter as a result of 22 trade-remedy investigations

China-targeted probes rise

Workers check toys for export at a factory in Ganyu, Jiangsu province. Twenty-one economies launched 77 trade investigations targeting Chinese exports in 2012, up 11.6 percent from a year earlier. SI WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Trade probes targeting China are becoming more frequent and complicated, and dealing with trade frictions will be a long-term and challenging task, the Ministry of Commerce warned on Monday.

"The outlook of trade-remedy investigations targeting China is, on the whole, challenging this year, and exporters are facing a very complex trade environment," Song Heping, an official at the ministry's Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports and Exports, told a news briefing.

"Trade frictions aimed at China will tend to be frequent and complicated. Thus, resolving trade frictions will be a long-term and arduous task," Song added.

In the first quarter of the year, China was targeted in 22 trade-remedy investigations, up 22.2 percent year-on-year, which resulted in losses to exporters of $963 million, compared with $2.64 billion a year ago. The 22 probes include 18 anti-dumping investigations and four anti-subsidy cases.

In addition, the country was hit by four Section 337 investigations in the first three months of the year, the ministry said on Monday. Section 337 probes, which are launched by the United States International Trade Commission, are mainly related to claims over intellectual property rights.

Twenty-one economies launched 77 trade-remedy investigations targeting Chinese exporters in 2012, up 11.6 percent from a year earlier, causing losses to Chinese exporters of $27.7 billion, up 369 percent year-on-year, the ministry added.

Yao Jian, spokesman for the ministry, attributed the surge in the figure to the solar product probes launched by the European Union last year, which caused export losses of $20.4 billion.

"The EU investigations are inaccurate in categorizing three products - photovoltaic modules, cells and wafers - as one product, and the complaint was made by EU ProSun, which lacks transparency in the representation of the companies," said Liang Jie, a director from the bureau.

The EU is due to issue a preliminary anti-dumping ruling in early June and an anti-subsidy ruling in August.

Chong Quan, the ministry's deputy international trade representative, recently urged the EU to handle the ongoing trade dispute prudently, warning that an unfavorable ruling may result in countermeasures from China.

Meanwhile, emerging economies are becoming the major force when it comes to trade-remedy probes targeting China.

In 2012, about 70 percent, or 54, trade-remedy investigations were launched by emerging economies, and the export losses derived from those cases accounted for about 13 percent of China's overall losses caused by trade-remedy probes last year, according to the ministry.

"China's trade with emerging economies has grown quickly and we'll continue to focus on these markets," Yao said. "But the rising trade-remedy investigations are a new challenge for China's trade cooperation projects with emerging economies."

He added that Vice-Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan is scheduled to visit Brazil soon, after the country launched 13 trade-remedy probes aimed at China last year.

Song said that China's exports maintained relatively fast growth amid the weak demand from major economies and the overcapacity in some global industries, making the country an easy target for trade protectionism moves.

Different trade-remedy measures were often found to be politically motivated.

China was targeted by 328 trade-remedy investigations from 2009 to 2012, causing export losses of $53.4 billion, the ministry said.

China's foreign trade was worth $3.87 trillion in 2012. The country was the world's biggest goods exporter and the second-largest importer.

"China's expanding imports will enhance the country's influence in the global market and improve trade ties with its partners. Trade frictions and remedy investigations will somewhat ease," Yao said.