In new sign of trade war, China slaps US sorghum producers with 179% deposit

The sorghum measure was the result of a two-month investigation that concluded US sorghum was being dumped on the Chinese market.
The sorghum measure was the result of a two-month investigation that concluded US sorghum was being dumped on the Chinese market.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS)- China announced on Tuesday (April 17) temporary anti-dumping measures on US sorghum, potentially hitting US growers and exacerbating the brewing trade war between Beijing and Washington.

China's Ministry of Commerce said that starting Wednesday, US growers will be required to put down a 178.6 per cent deposit after an investigation found US subsidies were hurting Chinese growers.

China has various contingency plans and policy reserves to deal with trade frictions started by the United States, the country’s top economic planner said on Wednesday.

The impact from trade frictions between China and the United States on China’s macro economy is limited and manageable, Mr Yan Pengcheng, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, told a news conference.

The news of the anti-dumping measures came a day after the United States banned US firms from selling parts to Chinese phone-maker ZTE Corps for seven years. The US Commerce Department said ZTE violated an agreement reached after the company was caught shipping US goods to Iran.

The possibly linked moves take place against a backdrop of heightened tension between the world's two largest economies. In recent months, the US and China have exchanged escalating threats of tariffs worth billions of dollars.

The sorghum measure was the result of a two-month investigation that concluded US sorghum was being dumped on the Chinese market. Likely not coincidentally, US critics often accuse China of dumping its own products, such as aluminum in January.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said US sorghum exports to China rose from 317,000 tonnes in 2013 to 4.76 million tonnes in 2017, while price of the exported sorghum fell in 31 per cent - harming Chinese farmers.

"This approach is in line with the Chinese law and WTO rules, it aims at correcting unfair trade practices, maintain normal trade and competition order," wrote Wang Hejun, director of the ministry's trade remedy and investigation bureau, in a statement.

In China, sorghum is used in animal feed and also in the production of a popular type of Chinese liquor.