China metals group eyeing new counter-measures in U.S. trade row

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese industry body which recommended targeting scrap aluminium in retaliatory trade action against the United States is already exploring what other measures could be taken, an official said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO - Aluminum ingots are piled up at a bonded storage area at the Dagang Terminal of Qingdao Port, in Qingdao, Shandong province June 7, 2014. REUTERS/Fayen Wong/File Photo

U.S. scrap aluminium was one of 128 products that China said it was considering for additional tariffs last month, and the Chinese finance ministry late on Sunday confirmed the material will face an extra 25 percent import tariff from Monday.

The United States is the biggest supplier of scrap aluminium to China, which is the world’s top aluminium producer.

“We are doing research and looking if there is anything else we can do to respond,” Wen Xianjun, vice president of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA), told Reuters.

Chinese aluminium firms had already faced U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties on shipments of aluminium foil before President Donald Trump imposed a 10 percent tariff on U.S. aluminium imports from March 23.

The association’s recommendation to the Chinese government is “if we are going to fight, we should fight hard,” said Wen, who led antidumping negotiations with Washington on behalf of Chinese aluminium firms.

Scrap aluminium had initially been singled out by the CNIA as a potential target because the volume China imports from the United States - slightly over 600,000 tonnes in 2017 according to Chinese customs data - was roughly equivalent to Beijing’s aluminium exports to Washington, Wen said.

The counter-measures had “only just begun” and China would respond to any further U.S. action, he added.

Trump is separately preparing to impose tariffs of more than $50 billion on Chinese goods intended to punish Beijing over U.S. accusations that China systematically misappropriated American intellectual property - allegations China denies.

The U.S.-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has said that China’s additional tariffs would not bode well for trading of the commodity.

Valuing U.S. scrap aluminium exports to China last year at $1.17 billion, it said a 25 percent tariff “would mean a nearly $300 million price burden on a trade relationship that represents nearly 25 percent of the entire world’s trade in aluminium scrap,” the group said in a statement on March 26 ahead of Beijing’s weekend decision.

But Wen said he saw no impact from the action on the Chinese aluminium industry because China has more than enough primary aluminium at home.

Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.