BEIJING — China will cut another 500,000 steel and coal jobs this year to reduce excess production capacity, the labor minister said Wednesday, amid complaints the industries are flooding global markets and depressing prices.
Beijing is in the midst of a multiyear effort launched last year to shrink bloated industries including steel, coal, cement, aluminum and glass in which production exceeds demand. That has fed a flood of low-cost exports that Washington and Europe complain are hurting foreign competitors and threatening thousands of jobs.
A report last year from the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a nonprofit formed by leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union, largely blamed China for 19,000 steelworker layoffs in the United States and causing a global import crisis.
The study published in late summer found China accounts for nearly half the world’s steelmaking overcapacity. It found Chinese steelmakers had been building more mills with the help of subsidies and government incentives.
Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul warned of more job losses and plant closures if more wasn't done to battle cheap imports.
“China’s industrial overcapacity in the steel sector may be the most daunting challenge facing manufacturing in the rest of the industrialized world today,” Paul said last summer. “Beijing has promised to cut capacity for years, but China just hasn’t stopped.”
The Chinese government will provide support for the laid-off workers to find other jobs, start companies or retire, Labor Minister Yin Weimin said at a news conference on Wednesday.
"This year, to reduce excess capacity, we need to make accommodation for 500,000 workers," Yin said.
Beijing provided similar aid last year to 726,000 workers who lost jobs in coal and steel, according to Yin. That was equal to about 40 percent of the 1.8 million jobs authorities said would be eliminated in those industries last year.
The campaign to reduce excess production capacity is expected to expand this year to cement and glass but Yin gave no indication when that would happen.
Foreign aluminum producers have urged Beijing to shrink surplus production capacity in that industry but authorities have yet to take action.