China Asks WTO to Rule on Trade Dispute on Fasteners

China is the world's biggest producer of screws, nuts, bolts and washers, while the EU is its biggest market.

China on Oct. 12 asked the World Trade Organization to rule on a dispute with the EU over anti-dumping measures imposed by Brussels on imports of Chinese-made screws and bolts. "The Chinese government instructed its mission to... [request the] establishment of a panel to examine the dispute concerning the EC anti-dumping action on imports of fasteners from China," the Chinese mission to the WTO in Geneva said.

Beijing sought consultations with Brussels on the issue in July but it said their discussions "failed to lead to a satisfactory resolution of the matter."

A European Commission spokesman described Beijing's claim as "unfounded." He said Brussels had "clear evidence" that Chinese fasteners were illegally dumped in Europe or sold for less than the normal cost in its home market.

The latest development marks an escalation in the dispute following a final European Commission decision in January to impose hefty tariffs on imports of some Chinese steel and iron fasteners, ranging from 26.5% to as high as 85%.

China is the world's biggest producer of screws, nuts, bolts and washers, while the EU is its biggest market. The EU imported 575 million euros (US$762 million) worth of Chinese fasteners in 2007, according to the Jiaxing Association of Chinese Fastener Producers.

EU-China trade has exploded in recent years, making the EU the top destination for Chinese exports while China is Europe's biggest trade partner after the United States.

The growth in trade has also brought about several high-profile dispute cases. Beijing's move came as the EU announced that it would extend by another 15 months penalty levies on Chinese and Vietnamese shoe imports. Anti-dumping duties on footwear, essentially fines for exporting goods below production cost, were first applied in October 2006 and have so far cost manufacturers hundreds of millions of euro.

Other Chinese export sectors, including steel cables and industrial chemicals, have been similarly targeted.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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