China Says Duties on U.S. Chicken Products Are Lawful

While U.S. officials cry foul, China's Commerce Ministry says tariffs are consistent with WTO regulations.

Beijing on Wednesday said that duties imposed on U.S. poultry exports were lawful, after Washington asked the World Trade Organization to look at Chinese tariffs on the $1 billion chicken trade.

The Commerce Ministry said anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs are in line with WTO rules, after the United States opened a fresh front in the fight for better access to Chinese markets.

"China will carefully study the consultation request raised by the U.S. and appropriately deal with the issue in accordance with WTO dispute-settlement procedures," the ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. move is the first step toward possible sanctions in the one-year-old dispute and is just the latest in a series of trade spats between the world's two largest economies.

U.S. government lawyers estimate the duties hit 90% of exporters in the sector, obliterating a market that had been worth around $1 billion before duties were announced in September 2010.

As the United States struggles to recover jobs lost during the global financial crisis, many American lawmakers blame Chinese trade and currency policies for the country's economic woes.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Tuesday called on China to "play by the rules," branding the series of Chinese duties on U.S. chicken exports as "inconsistent" with WTO regulations.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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