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[WASHINGTON] The United States launched an anti-dumping investigation against imports of Chinese aluminum foil on Tuesday, the latest in a series of cases against the country that could result in the imposition of punitive duties.
"The Trump Administration is unequivocally committed to the vigorous enforcement of America's trade laws and will ensure US businesses and workers are treated fairly," US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
US companies filed a complaint early this month saying Chinese aluminum foil imports are dumped into the American market at prices lower than the cost of production, and unfairly subsidised. They name 230 Chinese companies in the complaint.
Aluminum foil imports from China amounted to US$390 million last year, the Commerce Department said.
"The Department of Commerce intends to act swiftly to halt any unfair trade practices and will render our decisions at the earliest opportunity, while also assuring a full and fair assessment of the facts," Mr Ross said.
The US International Trade Commission will review the case by April 24 and if it determines that US companies have been harmed, the Commerce Department could decide this summer to impose punitive tariffs on those goods based on the dumping rate of between 38.4 per cent and 140.2 per cent.
The previous administration of Democratic president Barack Obama, just before leaving office in January, filed a complaint against China in the World Trade Organization (WTO) over its aluminum imports, saying subsidies granted by Beijing are illegal under WTO rules.
In the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process, Washington called for consultations with Beijing.
In the absence of negotiated compromise, the United States could be allowed by the WTO to impose tariffs on certain Chinese imports.