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September 28, 2009

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China probes chicken parts imports

CHINA yesterday formally launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into chicken parts imports from the United States, two days after US lawmakers agreed to end a gag order that prevented the US from even considering importing Chinese cooked poultry.

China 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 tires.

"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 subsidizing of US chicken products," the ministry said, adding Chinese chicken producers requested the case.

The tire case marks the first time the US has used a "safeguard" provision against Chinese imports, a clause China agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organization. The duties took effect on Saturday, immediately after the conclusion of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.

The American 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 American sanitary conditions before being shipped.

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 a pound.

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. This includes a Chinese investigation of US-made silicon steel and American investigations of a number of Chinese steel products.


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