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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

U.S. campaign fever spurs trade frictions with China

By Xinhua writers Wang Zongkai and Yang Jian (Xinhua)

15:19, March 08, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Congress has swiftly passed a bill to amend the tariff act for applying countervailing duties (CVDs) on imports from China and Vietnam -- another major move to enhance trade protectionism. Analysts said the move originated in the rising U.S. campaign fever and might damage China-U.S. trade relations.


The U.S. House of Representatives voted 370 to 39 Tuesday to restore the U.S. Department of Commerce's capability to impose duties on subsidized goods from so-called "non-market economy (NME) countries" like China and Vietnam. This came just one day after the legislation was approved in the Senate and several days after a senior trade official called on the bill to be introduced.

The bill, which overturned a recent federal court ruling, was waiting for President Barack Obama's signature before becoming law.

In December 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled out the bill, saying the Commerce Department did not have legal authority to impose CVDs on goods from NME countries. The court explained that government payments can't be characterized as "subsidies" in an NME context.

Now as the bill had passed, the Obama administration shored up its trade enforcement capability. Yet the newly-passed bill was just one of many recent trade-related political moves against major U.S. trade partners.

In the past several weeks, Obama signed an executive order to establish an interagency trade enforcement center to investigate unfair trade practices. For example, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) launched dozens of investigations into patent-infringement cases, and the U.S. International Trade Administration (USITA) started three anti-dumping and countervailing investigations. From time to time, Congress held various hearings on Chinese currency issues and alleged unfair trade practices.

All told, as of Feb. 21, 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department had 285 anti-dumping (AD) and CVD orders in place, among which were 114 AD and CVD orders on imports of a wide range of Chinese products, including consumer goods, steel products, agricultural products, seafood, and chemicals. Also, the USITC instituted 69 investigations in 2011 on patent-infringement cases, hitting a historic high for the second straight year.

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