Taiwan Economic Minister questions US charge of 'washing' steel in Vietnam to avoid duties

Minister Shen Jong-chin denies Taiwan engages in such practices and vowed to investigate the matter

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File photo: Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin

File photo: Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On July 2, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it would begin implementing tariffs on certain Vietnamese steel products with duties of up to 456 percent.

The U.S. Commerce Department alleges that companies in South Korea and Taiwan have been using partners to process and treat steel in Vietnam, as a means of avoiding U.S. anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties. However, Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), has questioned the veracity of the allegations.

Reuters reports that after duties were imposed on Taiwan and South Korean steel products in late 2015 and early 2016, that steel products shipped to the U.S. from Vietnam after the duties were levied, increased substantially.

The Commerce Department’s press release states that inspectors discovered corrosion resistant and cold-rolled steel products produced in Vietnam which contain an interior layer of steel produced in either South Korea or Taiwan.

However, after the allegations were made by the U.S. commerce Department, Minister Shen clarified that Taiwan has engaged in no such “washing” of steel products to evade anti-dumping duties. Shen says that the problem is a serious one, and insisted that the Ministry will look into the charges, by checking inventories in Taiwan and communicating with partners in Vietnam.

Minister Shen suggested that it may be the case that steel shipped to Vietnam for domestic use has been re-purposed and processed as an export item by Vietnamese firms without the knowledge of Taiwanese partners, reports UDN.

There may also be a problem of differing standards between countries when determining and certifying a steel product’s nation of origin, after it has undergone various treatment processes. Shen insisted Taiwan would investigate the issue.