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How did China know, opposition asks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/07/2016
China's massive steel industry has been relying on exports as domestic demand slows. © Getty Images China's massive steel industry has been relying on exports as domestic demand slows.

Opposition parties want to know how Chinese officials knew a complaint had been laid about the alleged dumping of cheap steel.

During the weekend Fairfax Media reported Pacific Steel had lodged a confidential application for a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise investigation into China dumping cut-price steel into the New Zealand market.

China got wind of it and, believing New Zealand to be part of a United-States led alliance against it, threatened reprisal tariffs on dairy, wool and kiwifruit to ensure MBIE didn't investigate, the report said.

MBIE will not confirm or deny that an application for an inquiry has been received.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says either China was told about the complaint or there was a leak from MBIE.

"Why and how does the Chinese government know more about MBIE's steel investigation than New Zealanders do?" he asked.

Labour's finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, says investigations into dumping - which happens when countries export goods for less than they cost to produce - need to he carefully handled.

"You have to have all your ducks in a row and do the investigating before the other country gets involved... it isn't proper that China has found out about the complaint."

Trade Minister Todd McClay, who is in Indonesia with Prime Minister John Key, has asked ministry officials to speak to the Chinese embassy in Wellington to seek assurances there won't be a trade backlash because of the dumping allegations.

Both Mr McClay and Mr Key say Chinese officials haven't raised concerns. Mr Key told reporters he didn't believe China would take retaliatory action, and noted there was no substantiated source in the Fairfax article.

China's huge steel industry has been relying on exports as domestic demand slows. The US has criticised it for that and a potential trade battle is looming between the two countries. China says it's being singled out for a global steel glut.

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