China to Review U.S. Fiber Duties Amid Rising Trade Tension

  • Review on optical fiber may be step toward increased tariffs
  • Recent developments aren’t a trade war, trade scholar says

China will review anti-dumping measures against a type of optical fiber product made in the U.S. and European Union, a potential step toward higher tariffs on those imports.

Domestic producers of the product, known as "dispersion unshifted single-mode optical fiber," filed complaints that U.S. and EU counterparts increased dumping, and existing duty rates aren’t sufficient, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement Tuesday. It said in April that it would keep tariffs on U.S. and EU products, introduced in 2011, for another five years. Those duties range from 4.7 percent to 29.1 percent, including 5.4 percent for Corning Inc.

The fiber is widely used in the telecommunications industry. The announcement Tuesday follows another last week of a probe to decide whether to extend anti-dumping duties on U.S. and Japanese optical fiber preform, a glass product used in fiber-optic cables.

Both steps come amid heightened trade tensions and a U.S. investigation into China’s intellectual property policies, which was initiated at President Donald Trump’s request. China on Monday expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the U.S. decision to probe its IP practices and pledged to respond if needed.

Read More: China Expresses Dissatisfaction With U.S. Trade Probe

Yang Rongzhen, a professor at the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, stopped short of calling the recent developments the start of trade war.

"When both sides cross boundaries of the legal framework and rules, that’s when you call it a trade war -- it’s unclear we will eventually get to that point," she said. "The review is within the legal framework. I wouldn’t say it is aimed at retaliating for the U.S. trade probe. If that’s the case, it would be too weak."

China is the largest global market for optical fiber, according to Bloomberg BNA. U.S. producers of optical fiber network equipment have complained for years that the Chinese government has shown a preference for domestic equipment as it expands and upgrades its domestic telecommunications infrastructure.

— With assistance by Miao Han

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