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EU hit as China launches tit-for-tat anti-dumping probe amid rising trade tensions

French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a Franco-Chinese Business Council meeting at the Marigny Theater, in Paris. 6 May 2024.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a Franco-Chinese Business Council meeting at the Marigny Theater, in Paris. 6 May 2024. Copyright Mohammed Badra/AP/EPA POOL
Copyright Mohammed Badra/AP/EPA POOL
By Eleanor Butler
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Thermoplastics coming from the US, the EU, Taiwan and Japan are sold at prices below fair market value, says Beijing.

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China has launched an "anti-dumping" investigation into chemical imports, in what appears to be a response to trade barriers introduced by the EU, the US and other countries. 

Polyoxymethylene copolymer, a plastic widely used in electronics and cars, is being sold at an unfairly low cost in China, therefore causing damage to domestic companies, said China's Ministry of Commerce.

The investigation will focus on imports from the US, the EU, Taiwan and Japan, and could take up to 18 months to complete.

Beijing's move follows on the heels of what it sees as protectionist trade policies implemented by the EU and the US.

Last Tuesday, Washington announced sharp tariff increases on Chinese goods, including computer chips and solar panels.

US President Joe Biden has imposed a border tax of 100% on electric vehicles, quadrupling the previous charge.

China's commerce ministry said in a statement that the decision would "severely affect the atmosphere for bilateral cooperation".

In Europe, the European Commission also announced an investigation into Chinese tinplate steel on Friday, following a complaint from European steel association Eurofer.

The move is the latest in a series of anti-dumping initiatives adopted by the EU.

Other probes concern Chinese electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and medical devices.

The EU has a 4 July deadline to decide whether to impose measures against imported Chinese EVs.

In response to Sunday's announcement, the Commission said it would carefully study the contents of the Chinese investigation before deciding how to proceed.

"We expect China to ensure that this investigation is fully in line with all relevant World Trade Organization rules and obligations," a spokesperson said.

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