BEIJING, Sept 26 (Reuters) - China’s Ministry of Commerce has upheld heavy duties on imports of chicken parts from the United States, standing tough on a long-running dispute over mutual market access.
The Ministry raised the minimum level of anti-dumping duties it first announced in February this year. It will charge duties of between 50.3 percent and 105.4 percent on imports beginning Sept. 27, it said in a statement on its website on Sunday.
The chicken parts ruling comes on the heels of a U.S. congressional panel approval of a bill that would let the U.S. Department of Commerce apply countervailing duties to offset undervalued currencies, a bill targetted at China [ID:nN24].
That bill, which stems from Congressional criticism of China for keeping its currency artificially low, will be voted on by the House next week, and critics fear it could further fuel Sino-U.S. trade tensions.
“The ruling is that there is a causal relationship between the U.S. dumping of broiler products and the losses suffered by domestic businesses,” the Ministry said.
Chicken wings and feet, virtually worthless in the U.S. market, are a delicacy in southern China. Many U.S. poultry producers count on the Chinese market to round out their profits.
Tyson Foods (TSN.N), an active investor and lobbyist in China, got the lowest duty of 50.3 percent, still higher than preliminary duties of 43.1 percent announced in February.
Other U.S. poultry producers who appealed the initial ruling found duties lowered. Keystone Foods will be assessed 50.3 percent and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp PPC.N 53.4 percent, while Sanderson Farms (SAFM.O) and 31 other American companies face duties of 51.8 percent.
Other U.S. producers face a 105.4-percent duty, the Ministry said. The duties will be applied for five years.
“We’ve allowed U.S. chicken parts into our market for ten years but they don’t let our products in. This is an unequal trade situation,” Wang Xiulin, president of the Chinese Poultry Association, told Reuters.
“The anti-dumping ruling is unequivocally a good thing for our industry. It’s the American’s problem now to resolve this issue.”
U.S. poultry producers had lobbied hard for Chinese companies making cooked poultry to gain access to U.S. markets, after a Congressional ban on discussions of such imports following a series of deadly food safety scandals in China.
The World Trade Organisation in July ruled for China and against that ban, after Congress had already ended it under pressure from U.S. producers ID:nLDE66Q28Q].
In late August, the Ministry of Commerce imposed anti-subsidy duties ranging from 4 percent to 30.3 percent on U.S. chicken products, after it concluded U.S. producers had received improper government subsidies and hurt the domestic industry.
U.S. chicken products acount for almost 90 percent of China’s imports. The additional duties could well fuel a return to rampant smuggling of chicken wings and feet, especially into southern China.