U.S.-China trade tensions escalating; United Steelworkers eyeing paper, glass, cement imports.

Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department  announced it was considering imposing a tariff of nearly 100 percent on imported Chinese pipes used to transport water, steam, oil, natural gas and other liquids and gases. China says the complaint is groundless.

The new dispute comes after  last month’s announcement by President Barack Obama of a 35% tariff on Chinese-made tires. That tariff has already led to increases in tire prices here.  China threatened to retaliate by imposing tariffs on American automotive products and chicken meat

The president of the United Steelworkers union said last month that it is interested in pursuing trade complaints in other sectors:

We’re looking at what’s happening in paper sector, glass, cement, steel. That’s our obligation to our members,” said Leo Gerard, president of the 850,000-member United Steelworkers union that represents workers in numerous industries and brought the original case against Chinese tires.

Domestic political considerations apparently influenced the previous U.S. administration’s trade policies. It’s likely that such considerations will come into play once again. (Pennsylvania has 21 electoral votes.)

President Obama is scheduled to visit to China on November 15-18. Trade is expected to be a major topic of discussion.

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