China Vows Retaliation if United States’ Response to Section 232 Aluminium Investigation Includes Tariffs

Describing the findings of the United States Commerce Department’s Section 232 investigation into aluminium and steel imports as “groundless” and inconsistent with the facts, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) aimed withering criticism on Saturday at the report and its conclusions.

The MOC’s chief of trade remedy and investigation bureau Wang Hejun is cited in state-run media as saying that the imports of aluminium and steel are mid- and low-end quality and do not materially harm national security.

Additionally, Wang opined that the United States already has significant barriers to entry for foreign aluminium and steel, and acting “rashly” in establishing even more is unwise. He continued by saying that Washington should temper its response and heed rules in place between the two nations so as to avoid jeopardizing the current economic recovery.

However, Wang warned that the Middle Kingdom would not sit idly by should it perceive a threat from the United States’ response to the investigation.

“If the United States’ final decision affects China’s interests, we will take necessary measures to defend our rights,” cautioned Wang.

He told the South China Morning Post that rash action by the United States threatened to set a precedent that could have far-reaching consequences.

“The spectrum of national security is very broad. Without a clear definition, it could easily be abused. If every country followed the US on this, it would have serious ramifications on the international trade order.”

United States President Trump received the results of the Section 232 investigation in mid-January. The report suggested a three-pronged approach to protect the domestic aluminium trade, including the addition of healthy tariffs and quotas on imports from a handful of countries, including China.

President Trump has signaled his willingness to implement tariffs, quotas, or both, but he has yet to announce an official decision, which he is obligated to do by April 19.

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