China's Ministry of Commerce called the European Union's decision to raise anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel bars "unjustifiable protection," Chinese state media reported on Saturday.
The Friday ruling was based on setting higher targets for the profit margins of EU steel producers and "lacked justifiable grounds" amid a global industrial downturn, the official Xinhua news agency cited the ministry as saying.
Brussels and Beijing have been caught up in several trade disputes over allegations that China is illegally undercutting prices, threatening the livelihood of European producers. China is the bloc's largest supplier of goods.
China has been accused of exacerbating a global overproduction crisis with unfairly cheap exports and subsidies that allow its manufacturers to grow despite the lack of demand.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, had been investigating Chinese exports of high fatigue performance reinforcement bars - commonly known as HFP rebars - since 2015, after receiving a complaint from EU steel producers.
The steel product is widely used for reinforcing concrete in construction, according to the commission.
"The EU can impose anti-dumping duties on products from third countries if an investigation demonstrates that these products enter the EU at dumped prices that cause injury to the EU industry," the Brussels institution said in a statement.
Chinese exporters of HFP rebars will henceforth have to pay tariffs ranging from 18.4 to 22.5 per cent. The measures apply for five years.
But China argues that its HFP rebars do not impact the EU industry, as most of those imported were sold to Britain and Ireland to meet local market demands.
The EU now has in place 37 trade defence measures on the imports of steel products, while six investigations are under way. Fifteen of the measures and four of the investigations concern Chinese exports, according to the commission.
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