China to Penalize U.S. Chicken Imports

China to Penalize U.S. Chicken Imports

China, the largest market for U.S. chicken exports, plans to impose anti-dumping tariffs of up to 105.4 percent on U.S. broiler chicken imports, starting Feb. 13, that country’s Ministry of Commerce said Friday.

In a statement on its Web site, the ministry said the poultry products had been dumped at unfair prices onto the China market, causing "substantial damage" to the domestic chicken industry.

The statement said importers of U.S. broiler chicken products will be required to pay penalties after an investigation showed they had caused “material damage” to local producers by selling at below-market prices. Broiler chickens are those raised primarily for meat.

The investigation began in September, two weeks after the United States imposed tariffs on Chinese tire shipments. The ruling will further strain trade relations between the two countries.

The ruling will cut deeply into U.S. reeferized export volumes to China. Over the first six months of 2009, the United States exported 359,000 tons of chicken to China, or about 90 percent of the total 407,000 tons of chicken that China imported.

Relations have also been strained by the proposed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and by President Obama’s plans to meet the Dalai Lama later this month.

Beijing started the probe in response to the Obama administration’s decision to impose tariffs on imports of Chinese tires and a decision by Congress that effectively bans imports of cooked poultry, James Sumner, president of the poultry export council, said Sept. 14.

Those U.S. producers of broiler chickens who comply with China’s anti-dumping probe into their sales could face punitive damages of 43.1 percent to 80.5 percent, while those who don't comply would see their shipments face the top tariff, the ministry said.

The U.S. and China, with $409 billion in annual two-way trade, have been engaged in a spat over allegations of dumping and subsidies. China says U.S. complaints are signs of protectionism while the U.S. says it’s enforcing trade rules. World Trade Organization judges agreed last month to probe whether the decision to impose tariffs on Chinese tires violates global trade rules.