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Report: China threatens retaliatory measures against US metals tariffs

China said it will take "necessary measures" to protect its rights after the U.S. Department of Commerce recommended steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on national security grounds, the Financial Times reported.

Wang Hejun, an official at China's commerce ministry, said there needs to be a clear definition of national security. "The spectrum of national security is very broad and without a clear definition it could easily be abused," he said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Feb. 16 recommended a global tariff of at least 24% on steel imports and a 7.7% tariff on aluminum imports. Another option is a targeted tax on steel and aluminum imports from China, Brazil and Vietnam. A third option would impose quotas to reduce metals imports from all countries to below the level of 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump has until April to decide on the recommendations.

Based on the commerce department report, China was the 11th-largest steel supplier to the U.S. in 2017 with about 2% share of U.S. imports. China accounted for less than 10% of U.S. aluminum imports, the FT reported.

The U.S. government said China has depressed international prices of both metals after cornering the production of more than half the global output, the FT reported.

Should the U.S. impose a global quota or tariff system this may cause collateral damage for U.S. allies and prompt retaliation. Officials in Brussels have begun drafting retaliatory measures aimed at select U.S. products such as Kentucky bourbon.