Japan steel industry says China's anti-dumping duties unjust

TOKYO (Reuters) - China’s decision to levy anti-dumping duties on electric steel products from Japan was unjust and regrettable, the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Monday.

“Japan has been explaining that exports of the electric steel products from Japan had caused no injury to local industry, but China has rejected our claims,” Kosei Shindo, the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, told a news conference.

China, accused of flooding world markets with cheap steel, has started levying anti-dumping duties as high as 46.3 percent on electric steel products imported from Japan, South Korea and the European Union, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

China began levying the duties on Saturday after an investigation by the country’s Ministry of Commerce found evidence of dumping that was harming Chinese industry, Xinhua said.

Shindo, who is also president of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, said the Japanese steel industry will carefully study China’s decision and determine a proper course of action.

In 2015, China imported 121,469 tonnes of grain-oriented flat-rolled electric steel that is used in transformers and power generators, 54,299 tonnes of which came from Japan and 41,944 tonnes from South Korea, according to China’s customs data collected by the Japanese steel federation.

The actual impact on Japan’s steel industry may be limited as the country exported a total of 27.87 million tonnes of steel products in 2015.

But Shindo voiced concern over a series of trade disputes in response to massive exports from China, the world’s biggest steel producer.

“There are 207 outstanding anti-dumping cases on steel globally, including those under investigations. Out of that, 31 cases involve exports from Japan,” he said, adding that the number comes to 54 if safeguard cases are included.

“We want to act with caution and make sure that we cooperate with our government to continue bilateral talks to avoid any sudden escalations,” he said.

In response to the latest action by China, a spokesman of South Korea’s POSCO said: “We will seek various ways to minimize the impact of the Chinese decision on our business.”

But he declined to comment on how much the anti-dumping duties would be and affect its business.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi, additional reporting by Jane Chung in Seoul; Editing by Richard Pullin and David Evans