China Levying Duties on U.S. Chicken Exports

Two powerful Republican Senators are asking the Obama administration to pressure China to end anti-dumping duties on U.S. exports of certain chicken parts, which they claim are unfair and undermining the relationship between the two countries.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top two minority members on the Senate Finance Committee, ask the administration officials to seek “high-level consultations” and ask that the duties be removed.

“China is one of the major beneficiaries of the global trading system, and it needs to understand that the abusive application of its trade remedy laws is increasing tensions and further undermining our bilateral relations,” they write.

The anti-dumping duties were installed last month and range from 50.3 percent to 105.4 percent. China reportedly placed the duties on chicken products in retaliation for duties imposed on Chinese tire imports.

According to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council, the duties could cost U.S. poultry exporters as much as $937 million annually.

U.S. poultry exporters are especially concerned about the effects the duties could have on the export of chicken feet. Virtually worthless in America, chicken feet fetch a much higher price in China. Without the Chinese market, many producers are concerned that the feet will go to waste.

“There is really only one market for U.S. chicken paws, and that’s China,” said Toby Moore, a spokesman for USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, according to The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

U.S. chicken producers were already hit last month when the Chinese government decided to levy countervailing duties ranging from 4 to 31 percent on U.S. chicken exports.
Trade disputes between the U.S and China have been on the rise since President Barack Obama took office in January 2008.

According to China’s Commerce Ministry, the number of trade relief-cases brought against China by the U.S. increased 53 percent in 2009.

In the past year alone, trade disputes over tires, steel tubing, chicken, autos, paper, aluminum forms, nylon products and salt have arose. Just last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure making it easier for the U.S. to retaliate against currency manipulators, which China is known to be.

China had warned the U.S. not to meddle in its currency valuation decision and, if they decide to follow through on their threats, it will ensure that the trade disputes will continue.

“We are disappointed that duties are to be imposed and will examine the determination for consistency with applicable rules,” Carol Guthrie, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, told The New York Times.

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