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China slaps duties on U.S., Russian silicon steel

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on a U.S. specialty steel product, and also hit Russia with anti-dumping duties in the same case, its customs administration said.

U.S. producers will be assessed anti-dumping duties of up to 64.8 percent and anti-subsidy, or “countervailing,” duties of up to 44.6 percent on the grain-oriented electrical steel, it said on its website on Monday.

Grain-oriented electrical steel, also known as grain-oriented silicon steel, is used for the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators.

The state-backed China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters hailed the Ministry of Commerce’s April 10 ruling, which the Ministry has not yet publicly announced, state news agency Xinhua said.

“During the investigation the Ministry found that U.S. producers had received subsidies by the U.S. government, and their unfair competition hurt Chinese producers,” Xinhua said, quoting an unnamed person at the chamber of commerce.

Carol Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, said the United States was studying the decision and considering possible next steps, including challenging the measures at the World Trade Organization.

“Before taking such action, we would, of course, consult first with the affected U.S. industry,” Guthrie said in Washington.

On Friday, the U.S. announced a final decision to impose stiff duties on Chinese-made oil country tubular goods, which are steel pipe used in the oil industry [ID:nN09121864].

China has not yet formally responded to that decision, which was announced days before a trip by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis is also in Beijing this week, to hold meetings on trade with Chinese counterparts.

China is encouraging its steel industry to move up the value chain and produce more high-tech steel, but its increased exports of those products threaten lucrative markets for American producers.

China will impose anti-dumping duties of 7.8 percent on AK Steel Corp. and 19.9 percent on Allegheny Ludlum Corp., the two American producers that responded to its request for information. AK Steel faces anti-subsidy duties of 11.7 percent and Ludlum faces 12 percent.

A spokeswoman for the Specialty Steel Industry of North America, which accused China in an October 2008 report of maintaining “massive, pervasive and illegal” support for specialty steel, said they were studying China’s decision and had no immediate comment on the move.

China said Russian silicon steel producers OJSC Novolipetsk Steel and VIZ-Stal Ltd face anti-dumping duties of 6.3 percent, while others face duties of 25 percent.

The investigation was prompted by China’s two largest silicon steel producers: Baosteel Group, the state-owned parent of Baoshan Iron and Steel, and Wuhan Iron and Steel Group, parent of Wuhan Steel.

Probes into imports of U.S. grain-oriented electrical steel focused on six issues, including subsidized electricity, gas and coal, and incentives for steel sales and funding in the state of Pennsylvania, the ministry said last summer.

Reporting by Lucy Hornby, Zhou Xin and Doug Palmer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman