(Adds details on complaint, comments from U.S. senator)
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON Jan 11 The Obama administration is
expected to launch a complaint against Chinese aluminum
subsidies with the World Trade Organization on Thursday, a
person familiar with the matter said.
The complaint will likely add to rising trade tensions
between the world's two largest economies as President-elect
Donald Trump prepares to take office next week with pledges to
reduce U.S. trade deficits with China as a top priority.
The complaint, to be filed by the U.S. Trade
Representative's office, is expected to cite "artificially cheap
loans" from Chinese banks and artificially low-priced inputs for
Chinese aluminum makers including electricity, coal and alumina.
It will cite such subsidies contributing to excess Chinese
capacity and hurting American workers and companies, according
to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the
case is not yet filed.
The pending complaint follows an October request for a WTO
case against China's aluminum trade practices by the two U.S.
senators from Ohio, home to several U.S. aluminum producers, and
six other senators.
China has rapidly expanded its aluminum production capacity
in recent years and currently produces more than half the
world's aluminum. This has driven price declines that have
reduced the number of operating U.S. aluminum smelters to five
from 14 since 2008, causing the loss of 15,000 U.S. aluminum
production jobs, the senators said in October.
"When China drives down aluminum costs by cheating, Ohio
workers and manufacturers pay the price," Senator Sherrod Brown,
an Ohio Democrat, said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.
"Thousands have lost jobs because of unfairly subsidized
aluminum from China that has flooded the market and led to
overcapacity, and it's past time we get tough on these
violations before more American workers suffer," Brown said.
According to the person familiar with the complaint, the
United States will request consultations with China to address
concerns over its subsidies.
The complaint is the 16th brought against China before the
WTO during the eight years of the Obama administration over
issues ranging from tariffs on broiler chickens to tax rebates
for small domestic aircraft and export duties on key Chinese raw
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa