China Drops Probe Into US Sorghum Shipments

18 May, 2018, 17:30 | Author: Regina Silva
  • China Plans to Offer Major Trade Concessions, but Skepticism Abounds

China's Commerce Ministry said on Friday it was halting its anti-dumping investigation into imports of sorghum from the United States, saying measures it imposed would affect consumers and were not in line with the public interest.

In return, China is asking the USA to set aside tariffs and investment restrictions it has threatened against Chinese companies, the report said.

The probe had also sparked fears among American farmers that they would lose their largest export market for the crop.

In the middle of its investigation, the ministry concluded that, "Anti-dumping and countervailing measures towards imported sorghum originating in the United States would have an effect on the price of dwelling of a majority of customers and wouldn't be within the public curiosity", in response to a discover posted on its web site.

The two countries have not yet implemented their tariff increases to reach a negotiated settlement.

The US shipped 4.8 million tons of sorghum to China a year ago, compared with 317,000 tons in 2013. Preliminary antidumping tariffs of 178.6 percent on the crop, which is used primarily for animal feed and liquor, took effect on April 18.

Yet the average price per ton dropped 31 percent during the same period, which also caused a steep decline in prices of Chinese sorghum.

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Last week, US President Donald Trump said he was working with Xi to help Chinese phone maker ZTE, which had been barred from importing US technology after having admitted to illegally shipping equipment to North Korea and Iran. However, China's Foreign Ministry said this was "not true". "We are now saved", said a private sorghum trader who had over 600 tonnes of USA sorghum stranded at a Chinese port. "The next US sorghum crop will be harvested in August", Houe said.

The Chinese offer comes in response to a request by a high-level American trade delegation to Beijing in early May that China reduce the trade deficit, which hit $375.2 billion past year, by $200 billion. China vowed to retaliate, targeting American exports worth $50 billion.

The announcement was a possible sign Beijing is willing to make a deal with Washington, amid talks between senior U.S. and Chinese officials aimed at averting a trade war between the world's two biggest economies. The news brought some unexpected relief to Chinese buyers who still had cargoes stuck at ports.

Earlier on Friday, China announced that it was ending its sorghum investigation, which had effectively halted a trade worth roughly $1.1 billion previous year.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the two sides were closing in on a deal to relax restrictions on Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE in return for China removing tariffs on US agricultural products and easing roadblocks faced by USA semiconductor company Qualcomm.

"China has taught a lesson to the United States and showed how it can hurt USA exports", said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at brokerage Chinese Vice Premier Liu Hein Sydney. "We just can't do that anymore", he said.

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