China calls US repeat abuser of world trade rules

Above, workers at a steel mill of Dongbei Special Steel in Dalian, Liaoning province. US President Donald Trump earlier announced hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, aimed at hitting Chinese overproduction. (Reuters)
Updated 22 March 2018
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China calls US repeat abuser of world trade rules

SHANGHAI: China accused the US of “repeatedly abusing” international trade rules, as Beijing braced on Thursday for an imminent announcement from President Donald Trump slapping more tariffs on Chinese imports.
A World Trade Organization ruling against Obama-era anti-subsidy tariffs on Wednesday handed China’s commerce ministry ammunition to criticize Washington’s conduct in trade affairs.
The ruling “proves that the US side has violated WTO rules, repeatedly abused trade remedy measures, which has seriously damaged the fair and just nature of the international trade environment and weakened the stability of the multilateral trading system,” the ministry said.
There are growing fears that the world’s two largest economies could be sliding toward a trade war as Trump seeks to fulfill election campaign promises to get tough with China over its huge surplus with the US.
Trump is expected to announce by Friday tariffs on Chinese imports worth up to $60 billion, and Beijing, according to the Wall Street Journal, has prepared retaliatory measures.
In the statement posted on its website late on Wednesday, the commerce ministry urged the US to provide Chinese companies with a “fair and stable international trade environment.”
The WTO ruled the US had not fully complied with a 2014 ruling against its anti-subsidy tariffs on a range of Chinese products. However, it also supported the US claim that Chinese exporters were getting subsidies from “public bodies,” despite Beijing’s assertions to the contrary.
China went to the WTO in 2012 to challenge US anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese exports including solar panels, wind turbines, steel cylinders and aluminum extrusions.
The tariffs that Trump is expected to announce will aim at curbing theft of US technology by China.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday they would target China’s high technology sector and there could also be restrictions on Chinese investments in the US. Other sectors like apparel could also be hit.
An editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper said the world should stand together to prevent a trade war, warning that China would not be the Trump administration’s only target.
“Since the US seems unlikely to mend its ways, other countries should stop hoping they will be spared its protectionist shots and become more resolute in standing firm against them,” the newspaper said.
“History shows the pinpricks of protectionism can ultimately lead to the shots of war somewhere down the line.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that China was preparing to hit back with tariffs aimed at Trump’s support base, including levies targeting US agricultural exports, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Analysts said US companies like Boeing Co, which sell billions of dollars’ worth of planes to Chinese airlines, as well as deals which require Chinese approval could also become caught in the cross fire should a trade war break out.
Boeing this week announced a $3.6 billion order from China Southern Airlines Co.’s subsidiary Xiamen Airlines. Chip giant Qualcomm is still waiting for Chinese approval of its proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors.
US electric carmaker Tesla Inc. is in long-running talks with Shanghai authorities to build a local manufacturing plant in the city, while Chinese state media have called for measures against US soybean imports to China.
“China has a lot of options on the table with respect to potential retaliation,” said William Marshall, a Hong Kong-based lawyer who advises both US and Chinese clients on investments and disputes.
“Day to day business could become more difficult.”


India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

Updated 16 December 2018
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India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

  • The city of Thoothukudi had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant
  • Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied

NEW DELHI: An Indian copper smelter at the centre of a police shooting that left 13 protesters dead has been granted permission to reopen by the country's environmental court.
The Sterlite plant, owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources, was closed after the bloody police crackdown in May on protesters who say the smelter is poisoning the air and water.
Vedanta Resources, owned by Indian-born billionaire tycoon Anil Agarwal, had appealed against the plant's closure by the state government of Tamil Nadu where it is located.
The National Green Tribunal, a federal authority which rules on environmental matters, ordered Saturday that the plant in Thoothukudi city could resume operation.
Sterlite CEO P. Ramnath on Sunday welcomed the decision.
"We are happy that all those affected by the closure will get back their source of livelihood and the town of Thoothukudi will revert to normalcy," he said in a statement on Twitter.
The Tamil Nadu state government has said it will appeal the decision in India's highest court.
The city of Thoothukudi, previously known as Tuticorin, had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant, one of the largest in India.
Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied.
The demonstrations intensified in May after Vedanta sought to double the annual capacity of the plant.
On May 22, police opened fire on thousands of protesters, killing 13 people.
The plant was shuttered by the state government in the aftermath of the shooting.
The company denies all charges and maintains that it adheres to the best environmental standards.
The federal green court ordered Vedanta to spend one billion rupees ($13.9 million) over three years to assist local communities.
But it criticised the pollution regulators in Tamil Nadu, saying they stalled the case by tying up the company in paperwork.