BEIJING (AP) — A European Union official said Wednesday he received assurances from China that it is trying to curb steel production, an announcement that could ease tensions between the two sides over soaring Chinese exports.
Officials gave a ''very clear and determined'' message that China has no interest in being a major exporter, said Heinz Zourek, the EU director general for enterprise and industry.
European steel producers complain they are being hurt by Chinese exports sold below cost.
''China considers that they have reached a peak of capacity of production of steel and will do whatever they can to avoid that additional capacity will be created,'' Zourek said as he wrapped up a three-day visit.
China is the world's biggest steel producer, but Beijing has imposed new taxes to discourage exports and rein in growth of the industry, which it says is too dirty and energy-intensive.
Despite those measures, Europe's steel imports from China in the first nine months of this year were up 137 percent from the same period of 2006 at 8.9 million metric tons.
According to Zourek, officials of China's main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said they hope to cut steel production capacity by 20 percent to 400 million tons.
Beijing also wants to enhance productivity by closing down outdated facilities, Zourek said. He said a Chinese delegation is due to attend an EU seminar in Poland this year on restructuring an obsolete steel industry.