China is understood to have launched an investigation into chemical firms in Taiwan, claiming they sold certain chemicals on the Chinese market at unfairly low prices.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has also accused butyric alcohol vendors from Malaysia and the US of dumping, local reports state. Butyric alcohol is one of the key ingredients used in the production of a wide range of petrochemical items such as coating materials, adhesives, textile auxiliaries and plasticisers.

The investigation is expected to focus on butyric alcohol from those exporters between 1 January 2014 and 30 June 2017, to determine whether the imports harmed their Chinese counterparts.

According to Taiwan News, the probe is scheduled to end on 29 December 2018, but could be extended until 26 June 2019.

The investigation follows the filing of a petition with the Ministry by oil and gas firm PetroChina Co requesting a probe into the exporters.

In 2016, Taiwan sold US$106m worth of butyric alcohol to China, down from $112m in 2014. In the first half of 2017, the figure was $54m. During that period, Taiwan was the largest butyric alcohol supplier to China, accounting for between 48.62% and 63.64% of China's total imports, according to data from MOEA.

This is the second anti-dumping investigation initiated by China against Taiwan since June 2017, when an investigation was launched into imports of Taiwan-made styrene monomer.