China to review US fiber duties amid rising trade tension

China will review anti-dumping measures against a type of optical fiber product made in the US and European Union.
China will review anti-dumping measures against a type of optical fiber product made in the US and European Union.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BEIJING (Bloomberg) - China will review anti-dumping measures against a type of optical fiber product made in the US and European Union, a potential step towards higher tariffs on those imports.

Domestic producers of the product, known as "dispersion unshifted single-mode optical fiber", filed complaints that the United States and European Union counterparts increased dumping, and existing duty rates are not sufficient, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 22).

It said in April that it would keep tariffs on US and EU products, introduced in 2011, for another five years. Those duties range from 4.7 per cent to 29.1 per cent, including 5.4 per cent for Corning Inc.

The fiber is widely used in the telecommunications industry.

The announcement on Tuesday follows another last week of a probe to decide whether to extend anti-dumping duties on US and Japanese optical fiber preform, a glass product used in fiber-optic cables.

Both steps come amid heightened trade tensions and a US investigation into China's intellectual property policies, which was initiated at President Donald Trump's request.

China on Monday expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the US decision to probe its IP practices and pledged to respond if needed.

Yang Rongzhen, a professor at the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, stopped short of calling the recent developments the start of trade war.

"When both sides cross boundaries of the legal framework and rules, that's when you call it a trade war - it's unclear we will eventually get to that point," she said. "The review is within the legal framework. I wouldn't say it is aimed at retaliating for the US trade probe. If that's the case, it would be too weak."

China is the largest global market for optical fiber, according to Bloomberg BNA.

US producers of optical fiber network equipment have complained for years that the Chinese government has shown a preference for domestic equipment as it expands and upgrades its domestic telecommunications infrastructure.