US regulators launched an investigationon Thursday into complaints by United States Steel Corp. that Chinese competitors stole its secrets and fixed prices, Reuters reported.
The International Trade Commission said in a statement that it has not made any decisions on the merits of the case.
US Steel, in its complaint under US tariff law, is seeking to halt nearly all imports from China’s largest steel producers and trading houses.
The commission identified 40 Chinese steelmakers and distribution subsidiaries as respondents, including Baosteel Group, Hebei Iron and Steel Group, Wuhan Iron and Steel Co. Ltd., Maanshan Iron and Steel Group, Anshan Iron and Steel Group and Jiangsu Shagang Group.
The probe comes amid a barrage of efforts by the US Commerce Department to clamp down on a glut of Chinese steel imports, including steep anti-dumping duties on corrosion-resistant steel announced on Wednesday.
US Steel filed its original complaint a month ago, alleging that it was a victim of a 2011 computer hacking incident that also prompted US federal cyberespionage indictments against five Chinese military officials in 2014.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker alleged the hackers stole research data on production techniques for a new generation of lightweight, high-strength steel now favored by automakers.
It said this accelerated Chinese competitor Baosteel’s ability to replicate the product, which took US Steel a decade to develop.
Chinese steelmakers and officials rejected the need for the probe, and steelmakers said they would contest any findings.
“The US steel industry has already lost its leading position, and there is nothing worth stealing,” said an executive with Maanshan Steel.
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