November 7, 2018 / 7:54 PM / 11 days ago

UPDATE 3-U.S. to impose new duties on Chinese aluminum sheet products

(Adds comment from China, U.S. associations; China Oct export data)

By David Lawder and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday said it would impose final anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Chinese common alloy aluminum sheet products of 96.3 percent to 176.2 percent.

The decision marks the first time that final duties were issued in a trade remedy case initiated by the U.S. government since 1985. The Trump administration has promised a more aggressive approach to trade enforcement by having the Commerce Department launch more anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on behalf of private industry.

"We will continue to do everything in our power under U.S. law to restrict the flow of dumped or subsidized goods into U.S. markets," said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement.

The final aluminum sheet duties, however, were reduced from those first imposed in April and July. The initial combined range was 198.4 percent to 280.46 percent.

In 2017, imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China were valued at an estimated $900 million, the Commerce Department said. The flat-rolled product is used in transportation, building and construction, infrastructure, electrical and marine applications.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) is scheduled to make its final injury determinations on Dec. 20 after it voted 4-0 in January to authorize the investigation.

U.S. aluminum industry firms including Aleris Corp , Arconic Inc, Constellium NV, Jupiter Aluminum Corp, JW Aluminum Company and Novelis Corp testified in December 2017 about what they termed a surge "in low-priced, unfairly traded imports of common alloy sheet from China."

The firms said the volume of aluminum sheet product imports had increased by nearly 750 percent over the last decade and by more than 91 percent between 2014 and 2017. This resulted in "significant market share gains by Chinese imports at the direct expense of the U.S. industry."

Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Virginia-based Aluminum Association, said in a statement the body and its members were "extremely pleased" with the decision.

Wen Xianjun, vice president of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, whose department leads aluminum anti-dumping negotiations with the United States, told Reuters on Thursday even the reduced final U.S. duties made common alloy sheet exports to the country impossible.

The association is lodging a no-injury legal defense in a bid to overturn the duties.

"We think we are causing no harm to the United States. We are just waiting for the USITC to judge," Wen said.

China's aluminum exports fell by 3.6 percent from September to 482,000 tonnes in October, the lowest since May, according to customs data released on Thursday.

Reporting by David Lawder and David Shepardson Additional reporting by Tom Daly in BEIJING Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker

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