The United States has not told China about an investigation into whether Chinese companies shipped steel through other countries to avoid anti-dumping duties, China's commerce ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
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The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday formally opened an investigation into allegations that Chinese steel producers are diverting shipments through Vietnam to avoid American import tariffs.
"To date, the U.S. has not informed China about this," Shen Danyang told reporters at a routine news briefing.
"Protectionism in international trade is gaining traction, and some countries are imposing increased restrictions on steel which is most certainly distorting normal trade."
China hopes all countries would adopt policies that "would create a desirable environment for global economic growth rather than the opposite which would create obstacles that impact normal trade," Shen added.
The European Union's anti-fraud office (OLAF) is also looking into several cases where Chinese steel firms shipped the metal to another country, disguised its origin, and then shipped it on to Europe in a process known as "transshipment."
When asked about whether China was aware of OLAF's investigation, Shen told Reuters he "wasn't well acquainted" with the situation.
(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Kim Coghill)