December 12, 2011
The US on Thursday (Dec 8) has requested the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to strike down duties that China imposed on US poultry products which apparently reciprocates US moves to restrict Chinese imports.
"The US will not stand idly by while China appears to have misused its trade remedy laws and put American jobs at risk," US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement just a few days before the 10th anniversary of China's accession to the WTO.
It is the 12th case the US has filed against China since Beijing entered the world trade body on December 11, 2001. It comes as President Barack Obama has faced some criticism on both the right and the left for not taking a tougher line with China on trade.
China imposed the duties, ranging from about 55-135%, on US chicken broiler products" in August and September 2010, claiming they were subsidized and dumped" in the Chinese market at less than fair value.
Beijing began the investigation that led to the duties on September 27, 2009 -just a few weeks after US President Barack Obama's decision to slap an emergency 35% tariff on Chinese-made tires to stop a market-disrupting surge.
The duties were also seen as tit-for-tat retaliation for a US congressional ban on cooked chicken from China.
The US was the largest exporter of broiler products to China before the duties were imposed. Since then, US broiler product exports to China have fallen by nearly 90%, the US trade office said.
"We are serious about holding China accountable to its WTO commitments and ensuring that there is a level playing field for American businesses -including our farmers," Kirk said.
Kirk did not explain how China appeared to misuse its trade remedy laws in the poultry dispute.
But US Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke, last month in Geneva, said "a pattern has seemed to emerge of the Chinese government's reflexive resort to trade actions in response to legitimate actions taken by the US or other trading partners under their trade remedies laws."
This type of conduct is at odds with fundamental principles of the WTO's rules-based system," Punke said.
The proper course would be for China to challenge measures it believes are unjustified at the WTO, he said.
Beijing did bring a case against Obama's tire tariffs, but lost. A WTO panel said the move was allowed under an anti-surge provision that Beijing accepted when it joined the WTO.
Beijing also filed a case against the congressional ban on cooked chicken from China. Beijing won that case and Congress has let the provision expire.
The US asked China for consultations on the latest poultry dispute back in September and the two sides held talks on October 28, but came to no resolution.
The Obama administration has brought five cases against China since taking office. The administration of former President George W. Bush initiated seven.