TOKYO: China's Ministry of Commerce is investigating alleged dumping of machine tools by Japanese manufacturers including industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp and machinery maker Brother Industries Ltd, the latter said on Friday.
The Nikkei Asian Review earlier reported that the ministry was investigating the two firms along with other Japanese companies Jtekt Corp, Okuma Corp and Yamazaki Mazak, as well as Taiwanese machine tool makers and Chinese trading houses.
A Brother Industries spokesman said it was cooperating with the investigation. He said the Japanese targets of the probe had been narrowed down this month to three companies including itself and Fanuc.
"Our understanding is that we have not engaged in dumping," he said, adding that the inquiry is due to end by October 2019.
The move comes as Chinese and U.S. trade officials set tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods, with U.S. President Donald Trump considering more tariffs unless their trade dispute is resolved.
China has been trying to forge closer ties with Japan, last month signing a currency swap agreement and agreeing to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The probe began following a request from Beijing Jingdiao Group and two other Chinese machine tool makers that make products for smartphone parts, the Nikkei said, adding that Fanuc denied any wrongdoing.
Tariffs or other measures will be imposed should the authorities conclude that the companies engaged in dumping, the Nikkei reported.
The ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters' faxed request for comment. Beijing Jingdiao and Yamazaki Mazak were not available for comment. Okuma said it was not being investigated. Jtekt said it did not export to China the products in question.
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru, Ritsuko Ando in Tokyo; Editing by Sam Holmes)