Space-filling model of a polymer section of polyoxymethylene, also known as polyacetal and polyformaldehyde

Yesterday, China’s Ministry of Commerce has announced an anti-dumping investigation into polyoxymethylene (POM) copolymers, an engineering plastic imported from the European Union, United States, Japan, and Taiwan. POM copolymers, which can replace metals like copper and zinc, are used in various applications, including automotive parts, electronics, and medical equipment. The investigation is expected to take one year but may extend by six months if necessary.

The European Commission, responsible for EU trade policy, plans to scrutinize the investigation thoroughly. A spokesperson emphasized the expectation that China will adhere to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and obligations.

This investigation is part of a broader trade conflict involving China, the United States, and Europe. Recently, the United States increased tariffs on Chinese imports, targeting electric vehicles (EVs), computer chips, and medical products. In response, China’s commerce ministry criticized the tariff hikes, asserting that they politicize economic issues and harm bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, the European Union has also taken action. The EU launched an investigation into Chinese tinplate steel imports, adding to ongoing probes into Chinese exports. Last September, the European Commission began investigating whether to impose tariffs on Chinese EVs, suspecting that they benefit from state subsidies.

Chinese officials argue that the focus on China’s excess capacity overlooks the innovation of Chinese companies and exaggerates the role of state support in their growth. They contend that recent criticisms from the US and Europe do not accurately reflect the dynamics of China’s industries.

The trade tensions have escalated further with China’s announcement of sanctions against three US defense contractors: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems, and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. These companies are now barred from conducting import and export activities in China, and their senior executives are prohibited from entering, working, or living in the country. This move coincided with the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, who has committed to maintaining close ties with the US.

China’s sanctions on US defense firms are largely symbolic, given that these companies have limited business dealings in China. Nonetheless, the sanctions reflect China’s displeasure with US arms sales to Taiwan. The sanctions list aims to penalize entities that threaten national security, including trade and investment restrictions and visa bans.

These recent developments illustrate the complexity of the ongoing trade disputes between China, the US, and Europe. The US has expanded tariffs initially imposed under the Trump administration, while the EU has initiated multiple investigations into Chinese imports. In return, China has taken steps to protect its interests, including launching its anti-dumping probe and imposing sanctions on US defense contractors.

The situation highlights the growing economic friction between major global powers, with each side taking measures to safeguard its industries and strategic interests. As the investigations and sanctions continue, the outcomes will likely influence international trade relations and economic policies in the coming years.

The broader implications of these trade disputes are still unfolding. Companies involved in these sectors are closely monitoring the situation, as the decisions made by governments and trade bodies will have lasting effects on global supply chains and market dynamics. The resolution of these disputes will require careful negotiation and adherence to international trade rules to ensure a balanced and fair economic environment.

Carbon, C: black
Hydrogen, H: white
Oxygen, O: red
Image is licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication and was created by Jynto.