September 14, 2009 / 10:52 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: Sino-U.S. trade disputes pile up

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States has decided to impose special safeguard duties on Chinese-made tires, opening the door to complaints from a host of other industries that claim harm from rising Chinese imports.

China Monday requested World Trade Organization-sanctioned consultations with the U.S. over the duties. It is increasingly turning to the WTO to solve such disputes, and keep markets open to its products.

Here are some of the key disputes dogging China-U.S. trade:

TIRES

The Obama administration imposed safeguard duties on Chinese-made tires, after a complaint by unions that low-priced Chinese imports are forcing American factories to close. China has requested consultations on the duties, a preliminary step toward a WTO complaint.

The new duty of 35 percent will take effect on September 26 and adds to an existing 4 percent duty. The extra duty would fall to 30 percent in the second year and 25 percent in the third year.

POULTRY

China said it would conduct anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into imports of U.S. chicken parts and automotive parts, in an apparent response to the U.S. tire duties.

U.S. breeders like Tyson Foods Inc sell chicken feet and wings, which Americans don’t eat, to China where they are delicacies, helping pad their profit margin on each chicken. The parts sell for about 40 U.S. cents a pound in China, compared with about 2 U.S. cents/pound in the United States.

China launched a WTO case in April over U.S. legislation that forbids the U.S. government from beginning the process of certifying Chinese cooked poultry exporters.

The House of Representatives appropriations bill extends the measure for a fourth year, while the Senate version orders the government to begin the certifying process.

STEEL PIPES

The United States on September 9 imposed duties ranging from 10.90 percent to 30.69 percent on Chinese-made steel pipes used to transport oil. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce denounced the move as protectionist and the Chinese firms involved said they might appeal.

Separately, China has filed a WTO challenge to U.S. anti-dumping duties on certain types of steel pipes, pneumatic off-road tires and woven sacks.

BLANKETS, BRICK

A U.S. trade panel in August approved an investigation into whether imports of electric blankets made in China materially injured or threatened to injure U.S. manufacturers.

On September 11, the U.S. International Trade Commission decided, in a 3-3 vote, to recommend the U.S. Department of Commerce conduct a countervailing duty and anti-dumping duty investigation into Chinese-made magnesia carbon brick, a steelmaking material. Preliminary duty recommendations are due in October and January.

RAW MATERIALS

The European Union and the United States are arguing to the WTO that Chinese export restrictions, including taxes and quotas, on several raw materials unfairly elevate the international price, while keeping input prices cheaper for manufacturers in China..

DISTRIBUTION SERVICES AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

In August, a WTO panel found in favor of the United States, which claimed that Chinese curbs on importing and distributing foreign publications and audiovisual products violated its WTO commitments. China may appeal.

Both the U.S. and China claimed victory earlier this year, when a WTO panel found that China had failed to protect and enforce intellectual property rights, but rejected the U.S. contention that China sets the threshold for prosecuting piracy so high that it is ineffective. China noted the findings did not challenge its right to censor content.

GRANTS, LOANS AND OTHER INCENTIVES

The United States, Mexico and Guatemala requested WTO consultations regarding certain grants, loans and other incentives to encourage exports of Chinese brands.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

China in November settled on a complaint by the EU, the United States and Canada against China’s requirement that foreign financial information suppliers, including Thomson Reuters, must operate through an entity designated by the Xinhua news agency, rather than dealing directly with subscribers.

Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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