Oil report

US trade official to visit China amid chicken spat

WASHINGTON, July 7 (Reuters) - Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis begins a five-day trip to China on Friday, amid a growing poultry dispute between between the two trading partners.

Marantis, who was confirmed by the Senate in May, will also travel to Vietnam for trade talks on July 16-17, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement.

Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, said on Tuesday that China had effectively blocked U.S. poultry imports for the rest of the year.

China is the top overseas buyer of U.S. poultry and has imported about $372 million so far this year.

The move follows Beijing’s decision earlier this year to begin a challenge at the World Trade Organization against U.S. restrictions on imports of Chinese poultry.

It also comes at a time when U.S. labor groups and some manufacturers are pressing the Commerce Department for duties on imports of tires and certain steel products from China.

USTR said the main purpose for Marantis’ visit was to help lay the groundwork for two sets of high-level U.S.-China meetings: the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in late July and the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade later this year.

The huge U.S. trade deficit with China hit a record $266 billion in 2008 and has been a source of tension for years.

Marantis’ visit will overlap with a trip by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu to China to discuss opportunities for increased U.S. exports of clean energy technology products and other ways the two countries can work together to address global climate change.

Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Philip Barbara