China probes into US chicken parts
beijing, September 27, 2009
China on Sunday formally launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into chicken parts imports from the US, two days after US lawmakers agreed to end a gag order that prevented the US from even considering importing Chinese cooked poultry.
China had said it would investigate chicken wings and feet, as well as automotive imports from the US, immediately after the Obama administration decided to impose hefty "safeguard" duties on Chinese-made tyres.
"The Ministry of Commerce believes that this case meets the legal conditions and has decided to conduct an investigation of unfair trade practices like dumping and subsidising of US chicken products," the ministry said, adding that the case had been requested by Chinese chicken producers.
"The case will be decided according to law and facts."
The tyre case marks the first time the US has used a "safeguard" provision against a surge of Chinese imports, a clause China agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organisation. The duties took effect on Saturday, immediately after the conclusion of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.
The US poultry industry had used the threat of the Chinese investigation, and curbs on wing and feet imports, to lobby for an end to a Congressional prohibition against the US Department of Agriculture moving ahead on certifying Chinese plants for exporting cooked poultry to the US.
China has already brought a WTO case against the ban.
On Friday, US lawmakers agreed to remove the ban from the USDA funding bill, but restated that poultry processed in China must live up to US sanitary conditions before being shipped.
The author of the ban, Representative Rosa DeLauro, had expressed concern for the safety of US consumers, after a series of food safety scandals in China.
The ban was renewed last year after a scandal in which melamine, a plastic component introduced into milk to cheat protein tests, killed at least six Chinese babies and affected about 300,000 who had drunk tainted milk formula.
Chicken wings and feet are virtually worthless in the US, where they sell for about 2 US cents a pound, but are a delicacy in China where they fetch 40 US cents/lb.
Imports from the US are equal to about half of the total output of Chinese poultry producers, and rose to over 60 percent of Chinese production in the first half of this year, the Ministry of Commerce said, citing figures from the Chinese Animal Agricultural Association.
The case joins a number of anti-dumping cases being conducted by both sides, including a Chinese investigation of US-made silicon steel and US investigations of a number of Chinese steel products. - Reuters