China to impose duties on US chicken
By Geoff Dyer in Beijing
Published: February 5 2010 04:28 | Last updated: February 5 2010 10:28
China will impose anti-dumping duties of up to 105.4 per cent on imports of poultry products from the US, opening a new rift between the two countries at the end of a week in which frictions between the US and China have escalated considerably.
China’s Commerce Ministry said on Friday it had decided to impose the heavy duties after an investigation into allegations of dumping made by local poultry producers. In recent years, American companies had developed a profitable business exporting to China chicken feet that were almost worthless in the US.
The new trade dispute came as it appeared likely President Barack Obama would meet with the Dalai Lama later this month.
The White House has yet to confirm the date for any meeting but the Tibetan religious leader’s office said that he would be in Washington DC on February 17-18.
Earlier in the week, a senior Chinese official said that a meeting with the Dalai Lama was not in the interests of the US at a time when it was trying to recover from the financial crisis.
”If the US leader chooses this period to meet the Dalai Lama, that would damage trust and cooperation between our two countries, and how would that help the United States surmount the current economic crisis?” said Zhu Weiqun, a vice minister at the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, the body which handles Beijing’s contacts with the Dalai Lama.
China also this week threatened to impose sanctions on four US companies for participating in a planned $6.4bn arms deal with Taiwan that the Obama administration has approved. The companies included Boeing, which has been at the centre of US-China relations for the last 30 years.
Meanwhile, Mr Obama appeared to step up the pressure on China over its currency on Wednesday when he told Senate Democrats that the issue of currency rates needed to be addressed internationally ”to make sure our goods are not artificially inflated in price and their goods are artificially deflated in price”.
In a statement on its website, China’s Commerce Ministry said that US poultry importers had caused “material damage” to local companies. Chicken feet and wings sell for around 2 cents per pound in the US, however they can fetch twenty times that amount in China where feet in particular are considered a delicacy. Chinese producers alleged, however, that the amount US companies were charging only just covered freight costs. The duties, which will begin on February 12, range from 43.1 per cent to 105.4 per cent.
The tariffs came a day after China requested a World Trade Organisation investigation into European Union duties on imports of shoes from China.
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