China said today it has started imposing anti-dumping tariffs on certain steel imports from the European Union (EU), Japan and South Korea, as Beijing itself comes under fire for similar trade practices
Duties on the materials, used in power transformers and electric motors, will range from around 37 to as high as 46.3 per cent, the commerce ministry said on its website.
The measures are intended to prevent the sale of the product at below cost, a practice known as dumping, it added.
The world's second largest economy, which makes more than half the world's steel, finds itself under attack by EU countries for allegedly flooding world markets with steel and aluminium in violation of international trade agreements.
On Friday, Premier Li Keqiang told a group of visiting leaders from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other organisations that China "will not engage in a trade war or currency war".
Nevertheless, the EU sees itself under attack. Earlier this month in Beijing, EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker pledged to defend the group`s steel industry against China using "all the means at our disposal".
He also said there was a "clear link" between the steel issue and the EU's decision on whether to grant China "market economy status" -- a prize eagerly sought by Beijing.
China has been pressing the EU to grant it the status -- which would make it harder for the bloc to levy anti-dumping tariffs -- before the year's end, citing World Trade Organisation rules.
China's announcement is the latest in a tit-for-tat fight with other countries over the special metal known as oriented electrical steel.
In May last year, the EU imposed similar duties on imports of Chinese oriented electric steel as well as products from other countries, in a move which Bloomberg News said was intended to curb competition for EU producers.
The decision prompted China to launch an investigation into imports from the European manufacturers.
China has imposed such duties before. In 2012 the World Trade Organisation ruled that Chinese duties on high-tech steel from the US violated trade rules. In 2015 the organisation censured Beijing for continuing the practice despite the judgement against it.