China accuses Taiwanese chemical firms of unfair economic practices, launches investigation

PetroChina Co. prompts investigation into butyric alcohol supplied from Taiwan 2014 - 2017

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PetroChina refueling station (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- China has launched an investigation into chemical firms in Taiwan, alleging they sold certain chemicals on the Chinese market at unfairly low prices, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

In addition to Taiwan, the MOEA said China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has accused butyric alcohol vendors from Malaysia and the United States of dumping.

Butyric alcohol is one of the key ingredients used in the production of a wide range of petrochemical items such as coating materials, adhesives, textile auxiliaries and plasticizers.

According to China's MOC, the investigation will focus on butyric alcohol from those exporters from Jan. 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, to determine whether the imports harmed their Chinese counterparts.

The MOC said the probe is scheduled to ended on Dec. 29, 2018, but is subject to an extension to June 26, 2019 if necessary.

The probe was launched by the MOC after PetroChina Co. filed a petition with the ministry requesting an investigation into the exporters.

Taiwan sold US$112 million worth of butyric alcohol to China in 2014, US$117 million in 2015, US$106 million in 2016, and US$54.05 million in the first half of 2017, the MOEA cited statistics released by China as saying.

During that period, Taiwan was the largest butyric alcohol supplier to China, accounting for between 48.62 percent and 63.64 percent of China's total imports.

In 2016, Taiwan took a 53.09 percent share of China's total imports, ahead of Malaysia's 11.33 percent, and the U.S's 8.05 percent, the data showed.

The Bureau of Foreign Trade under the MOEA said it has informed the Petrochemical Industry Association of Taiwan and its members about the investigation, urging those local firms impacted to sign up for a response to China's anti-dumping probe.

The bureau said the government will provide financial subsidies to affected Taiwanese firms who hire lawyers and accountants to respond to the investigation.

The probe involving butyric alcohol imports is the second anti-dumping investigation initiated by China against Taiwan since June 2017, when an investigation was launched into imports of Taiwan-made styrene monomer.