China accuses EU of protectionism over new steel taxes

'Imprudently taking protectionist measures is just another attack on international trade,' says a ministry official

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Beijing has accused the European Union of “protectionist” behavior after Brussels imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel products, as it seeks to protect struggling steel makers in Europe.

The EU Commission said Friday it would impose taxes of between 30.7 percent and 64.9 percent on certain Chinese steel products which it says are being sold at a loss in Europe.

The measure, which also applies to Taiwan, is part of an EU push against China -- which makes more than half the world’s steel -- for allegedly flooding global markets in violation of international trade agreements.

But China’s commerce ministry said the EU move was in breach of World Trade Organization rules and vowed to “take necessary measures to defend the fair rights” of Chinese companies.

“Imprudently taking protectionist measures is just another attack on international trade,” a ministry official said Friday in a statement.

The targeted products are used to join steel pipes and tubes, and are commonly used in industries such as food processing and shipbuilding as well as energy and construction.

In the face of criticism, Beijing has vowed to eliminate 100-150 million tons of capacity - out of a total of 1.2 billion tons - by 2020.

The EU has had a series of trade disputes with China, its second-largest trading partner, but is also seeking to resolve the stand-off over steel with Beijing through the OECD, the Paris-based group of developed economies.

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