China Calls Accusations “Untenable” in Response to US Shipbuilding Inquiry

Chinese shipbuilding
China responded to the U.S. allegations over its shipbuilding practices (CSSC file photo)

Published Apr 18, 2024 3:22 PM by The Maritime Executive


Chinese officials and the state-run media continued the strong response denouncing the U.S.’s announcement of a trade investigation into the shipbuilding sector and efforts to triple the tariffs on steel. Chinese media writes the U.S. administration is using an “old playbook of unilateralism and protectionism,” saying it will fail to reshore manufacturing and result in a more expensive supply chain.

China’s Commerce Ministry issued a series of statements responding to the U.S. announcements and said regarding the steel tariffs that, “China has urged the U.S. to confront its internal challenges, while also demanding the immediate removal of imposed tariffs.” They responded by accusing the United States of abusing the Section 301 tariff review while saying the World Trade Organization has ruled the U.S. measures violate global trade rules.

Addressing the application for the review of the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding industries filed by five U.S. unions in March 2024 with the U.S. Trade Representative they asserted it “lacks factual basis and goes against economic common sense.” They are citing China’s efforts since the 1980s to build the shipbuilding industry saying that their success is the result of enterprises’ technological innovation and active participation in market competition.

“Multiple U.S. research reports show that the U.S. shipbuilding industry has lost its competitive advantage many years ago due to over-protection,” the Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said. “The United States provides hundreds of billions of dollars in discriminatory subsidies to its own industries, but accuses China of adopting so-called ‘non-market practices’.”

China is calling for the United States to “return to the rules-based multilateral trading system,” while also referencing the “domestic political needs” ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. Media reports in China are saying supporting labor unions is critical in a U.S. election year.

They are saying the U.S.’s actions would have a “minimal impact on Chinese shipyards.” They said there has never been competition between the U.S. and Chinese shipbuilders, noting that for 14 consecutive years, China has completed the greatest number of ships worldwide. Furthermore, they highlight that Chinese shipbuilders now account for 50 percent of the yearly global orders. 

The U.S. Trade Representative is set to schedule hearings and solicit comments promising a thorough review of the filing made by the U.S. unions. China said it would “pay close attention to the progress of the investigation and will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its rights and interests.”