Photographer: Fred Dufour/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Delays Key Commerce Decision on China Until After Trump's Trip

  • Decision delayed may not come until after Trump visit in Nov.
  • Ruling would determine level of duties U.S. can impose

The Commerce Department has deferred a decision on whether China should be treated as a market economy until after President Donald Trump’s visit to the Asian nation next month.

Commerce on Thursday delayed a decision on whether to impose preliminary duties on aluminum foil imports from China to penalize Chinese suppliers from selling the product in the U.S. at less than fair-market value. The department said it will announce its determination on the anti-dumping probe, along with a decision on China’s non-market economy status, no later than Nov. 30.

The department launched the review in April. Under the rules of the World Trade Organization, countries that don’t consider China a market economy have more flexibility in how they calculate tariffs to impose on Chinese products found to break trade rules.

The Commerce move puts off another decision that could inflame relations with China as Trump prepares for his first trip as president to the world’s second-biggest economy. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently said the U.S. won’t decide whether to impose tariffs on foreign steel until after the administration’s push for tax reforms by year end.

The White House announced last month that Trump will travel to Asia from Nov. 3 to 14, including stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

­“In all cases, the Department conducts a full and fair assessment of the facts,” Ross said Thursday in announcing the delay. “This extension will ensure that the highest standards are followed in this case as we seek to guarantee fair treatment for U.S. workers and businesses.”

A final determination on anti-dumping duties in the Chinese aluminum foil probe would be made 75 days after the preliminary decision. In August, the U.S. imposed preliminary countervailing duties on Chinese aluminum foil from China, ranging from 16.56 percent to 80.97 percent, after finding they were subsidized.

In 2016, U.S. imports of aluminum foil from China were valued at $389 million, according to Commerce.

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