U.S. Seeks WTO Panel Over China’s Duties on Broiler Chickens

The U.S. Trade Representative asked the World Trade Organization to establish a panel that will seek a settlement in a conflict with China over duties on American poultry.

China failed to follow proper WTO procedures before imposing the duties, the trade office said today in an e-mailed statement. Consultations, the first step in the case, ended in October without resolving the dispute.

“The United States will not stand idly by while China appears to have misused its trade remedy laws and put American jobs at risk,” Trade Representative Ron Kirk said today in the statement. “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.”

China set a duty of as much as 105.4 percent last year on U.S. broiler-chicken products. About 300,000 workers and farmers have been hurt by China’s actions, Kirk said in a Sept. 21 news conference.

China said in September its duties on U.S. poultry are “in line” with WTO rules after the U.S. filed a complaint with the trade arbiter about the Chinese taxes, according to a statement from the Ministry of Commerce. China imposed the duties in August and September 2010, claiming U.S. products were being sold in China at less than market value.

The chicken-import dispute may add to tensions between the world’s two largest economies, which have clashed over access to each others’ markets for products including steel pipes, tires, movies and music. The WTO rejected in September China’s appeal of a ruling that backed U.S. duties on Chinese tire imports, a move Chinese officials said would distort bilateral trade and won’t benefit American industries.

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