Senate upholds duties on China and Vietnam subsidies

image captionCurrent duties cover steel, aluminium, paper chemicals and other products from the two countries

The US Senate has voted to uphold Washington's ability to impose duties on subsidised goods from China and Vietnam.

This follows a US court ruling against the practice. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill, which will then go to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

Opponents say the measure escalates tensions between the two countries.

Those who support the bill say it protects thousands of American jobs.

"By passing this bill, we're backing American workers and businesses in the fight against China's unfair trade practices," said Senate finance committee chairman Max Baucus in a statement.

"We need to maintain these countervailing duties and strongly enforce our trade laws to level the playing field for US businesses and workers."

Some 80,000 jobs are said to be protected by current duties which cover steel, aluminium, paper, chemicals and other products from China, as well as plastic bags from Vietnam.

The bill is backed by the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Obama administration helped draft the bill after an appeals court ruled in December that the US Commerce Department could not impose anti-subsidy duties on goods from so-called "non-market economies" - economies where the state plays a central role.

The ruling called into question current anti-subsidy duties worth billions of dollars in trade, as well as proposed new duties on imports of solar panels and wind turbine towers from China.

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