China says hit with record retaliatory trade measures in 2016

Trucks carrying copper and other goods are seen waiting to enter an area of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai in this September 24, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China was hit with a record number of retaliatory trade measures last year, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday, with countries around the world claiming it had flooded global markets with cheap steel and other products.

“Trade disputes are becoming increasingly politicised, measures are increasingly extreme and final tariff rates are relatively high,” said ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen at a regular briefing, singling out measures taken against China’s steel, solar panel, ceramics and tyre industries.

Chinese policymakers are wary of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s protectionist stance on global trade, as he has promised a hard line against China, threatening to raise tariffs on its exports to the United States once he takes office on Jan. 20.

Sun said that in 2016, 27 countries and regions took out 119 trade remedies against China, with the relevant cases totalling $14.34 billion, up 76 percent from the previous year.

Twenty-one countries and regions took 49 remedies against Chinese steel, costing $7.90 billion, up 63.1 percent from 2015.

Trade remedies are trade policy tools that allow governments to take remedial action against imports which are hurting domestic industries. They include anti-dumping actions, countervailing duties and emergency measures to safeguard industries.

The world’s second-largest economy is frequently blamed for dumping cheaper goods on world markets because of subsidies.

China will increase its targets for capacity cuts in steel and coal in 2017, while extending its campaign against overcapacity in industries such as cement and glass, state media reported in December.

Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong