U.S. to continue probe into whether China dumping aluminum foil

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission has made affirmative determinations in its preliminary phase anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations of aluminum foil from China, the agency said on Friday.

The USITC voted for continued investigations into whether aluminum foil imports from China were being dumped or subsidized, it said in a statement.

U.S. aluminum foil producers have filed petitions with the U.S. government accusing Chinese manufacturers of dumping the product in the United States, the first such case since President Donald Trump took office.

China produces over half the world’s aluminum and exported 1.1 million tonnes of foil last year, up 13 percent from 2015 and more than double levels at the turn of the decade.

The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to announce a preliminary decision on countervailing duty on or about June 2, and a preliminary decision on anti-dumping duty on or about Aug. 16, the USITC said in a statement later on Friday.

The investigation follows petitions filed in March by the Aluminum Association Trade Enforcement Working Group, a U.S. trade group, which hailed the USITC announcement on Friday.

“Domestic aluminum foil producers have suffered extensive injury by unfairly traded imports from China for many years, and are pursuing these actions to bring about a return of fair pricing to the U.S. market that will allow them to make investments to further strengthen their competitiveness,” Heidi Brock, the group’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Aluminum foil imports from China increased by 38.8 percent from 2014 to 2016, and accounted for more than 70 percent of all such imports in 2016, driven by low prices, the group said.

Just before leaving office, the Obama administration launched a new complaint against Chinese aluminum subsidies at the World Trade Organization, accusing Beijing of artificially expanding its global market share with cheap state-directed loans and subsidized energy.

Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Leslie Adler