WASHINGTON •The US Commerce Department has said it has made a preliminary determination that common alloy aluminium sheet imports from China are being subsidised, and set countervailing duties of up to 113 per cent.
Imports of common alloy aluminium sheets from China were valued at an estimated US$600 million (S$786 milion) in 2016, the department said in a statement on Tuesday.
A final determination in the countervailing duty investigation is to be announced on Aug 30.
The Aluminium Association, a US trade group, welcomed the decision. "This is an important first step to begin restoring a level playing field for US aluminium sheet production," the group's president Heidi Brock said in a statement.
The department's preliminary finding comes as United States President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on some US$150 billion of Chinese goods to try to force changes in China's industrial policies.
The Commerce Department launched the investigation of imports of Chinese aluminium alloy sheet in November, the first US-initiated anti-subsidy and anti-dumping probes in decades.
Washington's seldom-used tactic is aimed at accelerating the imposition of duties against what are determined to be unfairly subsidised and dumped products. US companies and industries claiming injury from imports would normally first ask the Commerce Department to open such probes, but government-initiated cases skip that step.
The department said it calculated a preliminary subsidy rate of 31.2 per cent for Yong Jie New Material Co; a rate of 34.99 per cent for Henan Mingtai Industrial Co and Zhengzhou Mingtai Industry Co; and a rate of 113.30 per cent for Chalco Ruimin Co and Chalco-SWA Cold Rolling Co.
The preliminary subsidy rate for all other Chinese producers and exporters is 33.1 per cent, the department said.