China denies unfair subsidies after US passes bill

China on Wednesday rejected accusations it unfairly subsidises exports to the United States, after the US Congress voted to renew duties on goods from China and other state-run economies.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to renew a tariff scheme in place since 2007 on imports from "non-market economies" but which was struck down by a court ruling in December.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill after the Senate approved it on Monday.

Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of the country's annual parliamentary session, said the tariffs broke US and international trade rules.

"The central government has no prohibited subsidies," Chen told reporters, accusing Washington of providing help to some of its own industries.

"If any local (government) has subsidies we are willing to talk about this."

Before the court ruling in December, the Commerce Department had imposed countervailing duties against 23 goods from China and one from Vietnam that were worth a total of $4.7 billion in import value a year.

The bipartisan support for the bill is likely to further strain trade ties between Beijing and Washington, which have recently locked horns over vehicles, solar panels, chickens and the value of the Chinese currency.

Last month Obama ordered the creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Centre to crack down on what the United States judges unfair practices by its major trade partners, including China.

The agency will come under the office of the US Trade Representative and intensify coordination between multiple agencies, including US intelligence, to enforce US trade rights.

Chen said Wednesday China was "keeping a close watch" on the new agency which he hoped would "work in a very fair, transparent and open manner".

Source: AFP

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