China warns U.S. tire tariffs will harm trade ties

September 16, 2009 - 0:0

BEIJING (AFP) – China warned on Tuesday that U.S. moves to restrict imports of some Chinese-made goods would damage the mutually important trade relationship between the two giant economies.

The warning came after the U.S. last week imposed tariffs on Chinese-made tire imports -- a move that prompted Beijing to lodge a complaint at the World Trade Organization -- and said it would do the same on steel pipes made in China.
“The U.S. has been abusing the trade remedy system. This will certainly have an impact on China-U.S. trade because we have a huge trade volume,” Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei told reporters.
“This act by the United States is a clear trade protectionist move that will damage the interests of both China and the United States.”
He made the comments during a briefing on President Hu Jintao's participation in next week's G20 summit in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh and other upcoming world gatherings.
“It will also damage the economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States. It will do no good for the world economic recovery,” he added.
He was asked whether the trade flap would spoil the atmosphere for the upcoming G20 summit, but he declined to address the question.
Amid warnings that a jump in Chinese-made tires had cost more than 5,000 jobs in the United States, President Barack Obama on Friday imposed punitive duties of 35 percent on the Chinese imports, invoking a WTO rule.
The step ignited the first trade spat of Obama's presidency just as he prepared to host Hu in Pittsburgh.
A Chinese commerce ministry spokesman earlier in the day said the United States, as the country where the global financial crisis first emerged, bore a special responsibility to avoid worsening the situation with trade tensions.
“We know the economic crisis originally began in the U.S. so it should take the corresponding responsibility and be careful about using trade protectionist measures,” the spokesman, Yao Jian, told a press briefing.
But he also signaled a Chinese willingness to avoid an all-out trade war.
“We do not like to see... anything that negatively impacts bilateral trade, including U.S. abuse of such measures,” he said.
“So when we meet with trade frictions, we are willing to continue consultation and communication on relevant matters.”
Yao complained that the impact on jobs would be more severe in China than in the United States.
“The impact of adopting such measures is even greater on Chinese industry because as everyone knows, China is a labor-intensive country,” he said.
On Sunday, China's state-run media quoted experts saying that 100,000 Chinese jobs could be lost as a result of the U.S. tariffs.