BEIJING — China said Wednesday it will impose a second set of tariffs on U.S. chicken products in less than three months, this time on the result of an investigation that found that subsidies had created an unfair advantage for U.S. chicken producers.
U.S. companies will face import duties of between 3.8% and 31.4%, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
European Pressphoto AgencyA chicken seller cuts up his products at an open air market in Shanghai.
The new tariffs come on top of a February move to impose antidumping tariffs on U.S. chicken products, on a finding that such products were sold at less than the fair value. In that round, tariffs of between 43.1% and 80.5% were imposed on imports of chicken products from various U.S. producers. Both findings were preliminary, meaning that pending a final decision chicken producers pay a deposit to cover the tariffs.
It is not uncommon for antisubsidy and antidumping duties to be levied on the same product, said Matthew McConkey, an attorney specializing in international trade at law firm Mayer Brown JSM. In his view, the latest spate of chicken tariffs should not necessarily be seen as a significant ratcheting up of trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
He noted that antisubsidy and antidumping cases are initiated by industry players, rather than governments, and are then ruled on by government bodies.
“I don’t see this as a budding trade war,” he said.
Nonetheless, there has been a noticeable pickup in trade tensions between the U.S. and China, especially since the Obama Administration’s decision in September to impose tariffs on Chinese tires.
That decision was particularly vexing to Beijing because it involved the rarely invoked “safeguard” provision of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, which is meant to give trading partners recourse in the event of a sudden surge of Chinese products without having to demonstrate unfair trade practices. In the U.S., safeguard cases, unlike other trade investigations, require the approval of the president for tariffs to be imposed.
China announced its investigations into American chicken products and certain automotive products just two days after the announcement of the U.S. tire decision.
Last week, China launched antidumping inquiries into imports of a chemical product and optical fiber from the European Union and the U.S., an apparent response to a move by the U.S. Commerce Department a day earlier to investigate whether certain forms of aluminum made in China are being unfairly subsidized and dumped.
Also last week, China finalized an antidumping ruling on some nylon imports from the U.S., the EU, Russia and Taiwan.
Under the new chicken tariffs, importers of the chicken products will have to pay a deposit to the customs office according to the level of subsidy that the U.S. company is found to have received starting on April 30.
Major chicken producers Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. will face duties of 4.9% and 11.2%, and dozens of other chicken producers will face varying rates of up to 31.4%, the Ministry of Commerce said.
The tariffs apply to whole chickens, chicken parts and chicken by-products, regardless of whether they are shipped fresh or frozen, the statement said. But live chickens, canned chicken products, and cooked chicken products such as chicken sausages are exempt, the statement said. The list of products is identical to those subject to the earlier round of tariffs in February.
The move is likely to further hurt U.S. producers’ sales of chicken feet, which fetch a comparatively high price as a prized delicacy in China rather than being sold for scrap in the U.S. Almost all chicken feet produced in the U.S. are sold in China.
In a separate statement, the Ministry of Commerce’s Fair Trade Office said the tariffs were in response to considerable subsidies for chicken feed products such as corn and soy beans, which gave American chickens a price advantage in international markets.
The case involves over $700 million worth of imports from the US, which account for over 70% of China’s total chicken product imports, the Fair Trade Office said.