【英语中国】中国钢出口量大增引发中外贸易摩擦 China Steel Exports Cause Friction With Trading Partners

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2014-5-14 09:36

小艾摘要: China's steel exports are ramping up, exacerbating disputes with the U.S., Europe and other trading partners, who for years have claimed Beijing unfairly subsidizes its steel producers and sells produ ...
China Steel Exports Cause Friction With Trading Partners
China's steel exports are ramping up, exacerbating disputes with the U.S., Europe and other trading partners, who for years have claimed Beijing unfairly subsidizes its steel producers and sells products globally at below market prices.

The trade friction isn't new. But a recent increase in China's steel exports--to their highest level in six years in April--has heightened the tensions. Earlier this month, the U.S. imposed preliminary tariffs of 159.2% on Chinese grain-oriented electrical steel, which is used to make transformers.

China's government vowed last year to cut excess capacity in its state-owned steel industry. But production has continued apace as Beijing worries about slowing economic growth. Tuesday, the government said China's crude steel production in April rose 2% to a record daily average of 2.3 million metric tons. The previous record was set in March.

China's steel exports rose to 7.54 million tons in April, their highest since August 2008--shortly before the global economy nose-dived in a financial crisis. Last year, steel exports totaled 62.3 million tons, just shy of the record level set in 2007.

Production is strong even though domestic demand has weakened. In the first quarter, China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 18 months. Infrastructure projects and shipbuilding offset some of the declining demand from the property sector, but analysts say exports are playing a bigger role as a valve for China's steel mills.

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently made a preliminary determination that grain-oriented electrical steel from China is being dumped in the U.S. In March, U.S. trade officials said such Chinese steel was benefiting from unfair government subsidies. Analysts say U.S. steel companies are ramping up efforts to get Washington to increase tariffs on Chinese steel imports.

The state-backed China Iron and Steel Association has described the tariffs as protectionist and says Beijing's policy is to fulfill domestic demand rather than encourage high volume steel exports.

The association's deputy secretary-general Chi Jingdong said Chinese steel exports are rising because they are globally competitive, though he added that friction was understandable given the slow economic recovery in the developed world.

Even though output expansion is likely to slow over the year, the government says 2014 could be another bumper year for steel production in China.

In February, European steel lobby Eurofer said it planned to file antidumping complaints this year with the European Commission against Chinese exports of cold-rolled stainless steel. The agency couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Southeast Asian countries, Canada and Australia have also launched antidumping investigations into Chinese steel products in recent years.

Low-cost construction steel exports still dominate China's trade with emerging regions such as Southeast Asia, said Suaik Lim, a director at Fitch Ratings. 'It may not lead as much to political friction, but it will lead to trade protection repercussions,' Mr. Lim said.

While Southeast Asian nations haven't conducted a full-fledged trade war with China, they often join with the U.S. or other large jurisdictions as third parties in disputes taken to the World Trade Organization. Third parties are allowed to submit their views and findings to dispute panels.

In a report last year, the China Iron and Steel Association urged its members to favor higher value-added products over cheap construction steel. 'As trade friction with China rises, China's exporters must adjust export policies,' it said.

Prices of iron-ore, a key steel ingredient, have fallen to around $102 a ton, their lowest level since September 2012. While a limited package of official stimulus measures are underpinning steel demand in China's railway and urban housing sectors, Chinese steelmakers are still reeling from the domestic slowdown. Construction-steel prices were down 6% in the first quarter, as China's largest steelmakers posted a combined loss of 2.3 billion yuan ($368.6 million) in the period, their worst performance since 2000.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images2010年12月,安徽合肥一家钢铁厂中的工人。
中国钢铁出口量正急速上涨,这令中国与美国、欧洲及其他贸易伙伴间的争端恶化。多年来,这些贸易伙伴反复声称,北京不公平地补贴国内钢生产商,并以低于市场的价格在全球销售产品。

此类贸易摩擦不是什么新鲜事。但在近期,中国钢出口量上涨令紧张局势进一步升级。今年4月份,中国钢出口量达到了六年来的最高水平。本月早些时候,美国初裁决定对中国晶粒取向性电工钢征收159.2%的惩罚性关税。这种钢用来生产变压器。

中国政府去年声言要在国有钢铁行业削减过剩产能,但在北京担忧经济增长不断放缓之际,钢产量继续快速上涨。政府周二说,中国4月份粗钢产量上涨了2%,达到日均230万吨的纪录高位。之前的记录是3月份达到的。

中国4月份钢出口量增至754万吨,这是2008年8月(即全球经济增长因金融危机大幅下跌之前不久)以来的最高值。去年,中国的钢出口总量为6,230万吨,与2007年创下的记录水平相差无几。

尽管国内需求已经减弱,但生产依旧强劲。今年第一季度,中国经济增速放缓至18个月来的最低水平。基础设施项目和造船项目部分抵消了房地产行业需求下降的影响,但分析人士说,作为中国钢铁企业的“安全阀”,出口所起到的作用越来越大。

美国商务部近日公布了对进口自中国的晶粒取向性电工钢的初裁结果,认定中国存在向美国市场倾销行为。今年3月,美国贸易官员说,中国此类钢铁因不公平的政府补贴而获益。分析人士说,美国钢铁企业正加大努力,试图让华盛顿调高对中国钢产品的惩罚性关税。

受到国家支持的中国钢铁工业协会(China Iron and Steel Association)曾反复表示,征收惩罚性关税是贸易保护主义做法,还说北京的政策是为了满足国内需求,而不是鼓励钢铁大量出口。

该协会副秘书长迟京东表示,中国钢铁产品在全球具有竞争力,因此钢铁出口有所增长。但他也称,鉴于发达国家经济复苏缓慢,产生摩擦是可以理解的。

尽管未来一年产量扩张可能会放缓,但中国政府称,2014年中国可能会再次实现较大钢铁产量。

欧洲钢铁工业联盟(Eurofer) 2月份表示,计划今年针对中国冷轧不锈钢出口向欧盟委员会(European Commission)提起反倾销申诉。记者周二未能立即联系到该机构置评。

近年来,东南亚国家、加拿大和澳大利亚也纷纷对中国钢铁产品发起反倾销调查。

惠誉国际评级(Fitch Ratings)的林树毅(Suaik Lim)表示,廉价建筑钢材出口仍占中国与东南亚等新兴地区贸易的主导,这可能还不至于导致政治摩擦,但将引发贸易保护主义反制举措。

虽然东南亚国家未曾与中国发生过全面贸易战,但他们常常作为第三方在世界贸易组织(World Trade Organization)受理的贸易纠纷中与美国或其他大的司法辖区站在一边。第三方可向争端解决小组提交他们的意见和调查结果。

中国钢铁工业协会在去年的一份报告中敦促其成员将重心放在生产高附加值产品、而非廉价建筑钢材上。该协会称,随着与中国的贸易摩擦加剧,中国出口商必须调整出口对策。

铁矿石价格已跌至大约102美元/吨,为2012年9月以来的最低水平。虽然中国小规模的经济刺激方案对铁路和房地产领域的钢铁需求构成支撑,但中国钢铁企业仍受到国内经济放缓的不利影响。今年第一季度建筑钢材价格下跌6%,同期中国最大钢铁企业总计出现人民币23亿元亏损(合3.686亿美元),为2000年以来的最差业绩表现。

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