* US says countervailing duties to be levied on some China firms
* China expresses “strong dissatisfaction” with step
* Duties remain subject to March 15 ITC decision
* US president to decide soon on much broader duties (Adds China comment)
WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department said on Tuesday it had made a final determination that imports of aluminum foil from China are being sold in the United States at less than their fair value and producers are benefiting from subsidies from Beijing.
It said in a statement that antidumping and countervailing duties would be levied on a number of Chinese firms, with dumping margins ranging from 48.64 percent to 106.09 percent and anti-subsidy rates of 17.14 percent to 80.97 percent.
“This Administration is committed to trade that is fair and reciprocal, and we will not allow American workers and businesses to be harmed by unfair imports,” the statement quoted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as saying.
China has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the step and will take necessary measures to protect its legal rights and interests in the matter, the country’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement.
“The U.S. has disregarded the WTO rules and seriously damaged the interests of China’s aluminium foil exporters,” Wang Hejun, the head of MOFCOM’s Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, said in the statement.
The U.S. Commerce Department has made the wrong decision in levying high duties “without any evidence” and has “unreasonably and excessively” adopted trade remedy measures, Wang said.
The duties, which would take effect for five years, remain subject to a finding of injury to U.S. producers by the International Trade Commission (ITC), which is due to announce its decision by March 15.
Amid mounting trade friction with China, U.S. President Donald Trump is due to decide soon whether to impose much broader duties on steel and aluminum imports under a national security investigation.
Three of Trump’s top economic aides are expected meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Liu He, the week, the White House said on Tuesday. China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday the aide would discuss “China-U.S. relations and the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation.”
The Commerce Department said the foil case, the first the U.S. aluminum industry has brought against China’s aluminum sector, would have no bearing on the “Section 232” report on aluminum that is under consideration by Trump.
In 2016, imports of aluminum foil from China were valued at an estimated $389 million, Commerce Department figures show.
Last month, a group of U.S. aluminum foil producers told the ITC their industry had been devastated by Chinese imports and needed anti-dumping duties to survive and invest.
“The Aluminum Association and its foil-producing members are extremely pleased with the Commerce Department’s final determinations,” the group’s president, Heidi Brock, said in the statement.
“U.S. aluminum foil producers are among the most competitive producers in the world, but they cannot compete against products that are sold at unfairly low prices and subsidized by the Government of China,” Brock said.
The Commerce Department said antidumping margins will be set at 48.64 percent for Jiangsu Zhongji Lamination Materials Stock Co Ltd, at 106.09 percent for Hangzhou Dingsheng Import & Export Co Ltd and related companies, 89.54 percent for 14 other companies and 106.09 percent for the rest of producers in China.
Countervailing duty margins will be 17.14 percent for Jiangsu Zhongji, 19.98 percent for Dingsheng, 80.97 percent for Loften Aluminum (Hong Kong) Limited, Manakin Industries LLC and Suzhou Manakin Aluminum Processing Technology Co Ltd, and 18.56 percent for all other producers in China, it said. (Reporting by David Alexander Writing by Eric Walsh Editing by James Dalgleish, Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)