US claims WTO win in China chicken fight

The United States of Friday said it has won the first round of a major international trade battle over Chinese chicken tariffs.

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The U.S. said the World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed that China had unfairly slapped high duties on American chicken exports, which had resulted in an 80 percent decline in sales there. 

China has the right to appeal the case. If it loses the appeal, the U.S. would be able to seek WTO approval to impose retaliation on China. 

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“This decision sends a clear message that the Obama administration can fight and win for American farmers, businesses, and workers in the global trading system, ensuring that America gets the benefit of the rules and market access we have negotiated in our international trade agreements,” said new United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.

China in 2009 investigated alleged product dumping and illegal subsidy use by U.S. chicken producers and in 2010 imposed anti-dumping tariffs as high as 105 percent and anti-subsidy duties as high as 30 percent. 

USTR noted that the U.S. has already successfully challenged Chinese anti-dumping duties on specialty steel and is litigating one on autos.

The trade office said China had been found to use flawed tariff calculations, price comparison and investigation procedures, and had not been properly transparent in its decision-making process. 

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) hailed the ruling.

"Agriculture exports are critical to our economy, which is why we must continue holding countries like China accountable for their illegal trade practices. When other countries cheat on trade rules, we need to act swiftly to get justice before the World Trade Organization to protect American businesses and workers," she said. 

Separately on Friday, Stabenow called on the Obama administration to target alleged currency manipulation by Japan that is worsening the U.S. auto trade deficit. 

Updated at 1:36 p.m.