Commerce Secretary to press China on antidumping

Commerce Secretary to press China on antidumping

U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans plans to press Chinese officials over a trade complaint against optical-fiber maker Corning Inc., calling on Beijing to ensure the case is handled in line with World Trade Organization rules.

The complaint that Corning hurt Chinese producers by selling fiber at unjustifiably low prices is among a series of recent antidumping cases brought by China. The Corning, N.Y.-based company denies the accusations.

The Associated Press quoted Evans as saying on Tuesday that he would take up that case and other issues in meetings with Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Wu Yi and other officials.

"I am concerned about the recent antidumping filing against Corning," he told reporters. "I will be saying that we expect the process not only to be open and transparent, but that we expect their laws to be consistent with their World Trade Organization obligations."

The Chinese government later on Tuesday announced that it would extend its investigation of optical-fiber imports by six months. In a notice posted on its Web site, the Ministry of Commerce cited the "special and complicated nature" of the case.

The visit by Evans and U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, which began Monday, comes amid a dispute over antidumping duties imposed by Washington on Chinese-made furniture. It is one of 17 U.S. antidumping orders on Chinese products.

Chinese furniture makers have protested the duties of up to 198 percent on wooden beds, desks and other items, which were announced after a U.S. Commerce Department ruling on Friday. They could take effect next week.

Washington has also proposed antidumping duties on Chinese-made color televisions.

Zhang Qiyue, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said China hopes such disputes can be handled through "dialogue and negotiation instead of antidumping investigations and other protective measures."

Evans urged Beijing to help "break down trade barriers" that he said contribute to America's trade deficit with China. The U.S. had a $124 billion trade deficit with China last year -- an all-time high with any country. Evans also called on China to do a better job protecting patents and other intellectual property, saying violations hurt both Chinese and foreign companies.

China's thriving industry in product piracy routinely violates copyrights, trademarks and patents on movies, designer clothes and other goods, despite promises by Beijing to crack down.

Evans and Chao visited an auto parts factory run by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. to highlight what they said were mutual advantages from increased trade. The factory supplies seats and other auto interior components to Beijing Hyundai Motors Co. It uses products supplied by U.S. manufacturers including Dow Chemical Co.

"A plant like this shows the worldwide economy in which we all operate," Chao said.