China hits US sorghum with anti-dumping duties


But also plans to lift foreign ownership limits on automakers
BEIJING: China announced Tuesday that it was slapping provisional anti-dumping duties on sorghum imported from the United States amid heightened trade tensions between the world’s two top economies.

The news came as China also announced a timeline for lifting ownership limits on foreign automakers, meeting a longtime demand of the United States and other countries seeking better access for their companies in the world’s biggest car market.

Fears of a trade war have been simmering in recent weeks, with Washington and Beijing exchanging tit-for-tat levies and threats of more duties on hundred of billions of dollars worth of goods.

Tariffs on sorghum would hurt farmers in states such as Kansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, which are also major Republican-leaning states that make up President Donald Trump’s base.

“There was dumping of imported sorghum grown in the United States and the domestic sorghum industry has suffered from substantial damage,” the commerce ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it ordered importers to pay Chinese customs a deposit amounting to 178.6 percent of the value of imported sorghum.

The ministry will make a final ruling after further investigation, which may lead to anti-dumping tariffs.

The US shipped 4.8 million tons of sorghum to China last year, a fourteenfold increase from 317,000 tons in 2013, said Wang Hejun, director of the ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau.

Meanwhile, the average price per ton dropped 31 percent during the same period, which “caused a fall in prices of Chinese sorghum”, Wang said.

The measure aims to “correct the unfair trade practices and maintain normal order of trade and competition,” Wang said, adding that “China is willing to expand cooperation with the US side to narrow down differences in the field of trade”.

Foreign ownership limits
China, meanwhile, will end shareholding limits for new energy vehicle firms such as those that produce electric cars this year, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC).

The move will be followed by commercial vehicles in 2020 and passenger cars in 2022, when it will also do away with the restrictions limiting foreign automakers to two joint venture partners, the NRDC said in a statement.

“After a five-year transition period, the auto sector will lift all restrictions,” the NRDC said.

President Xi Jinping announced the plans last week without providing any details.

Xi’s announcement was among a raft of measures that were seen as potential concessions to US President Donald Trump as they face a potential trade war.

The NDRC also said the shipbuilding industry will do away this year with foreign ownership restrictions for firms designing, making and repairing vessels.

The NDRC will also lift restrictions on foreign ownership of aircraft manufacturing firms this year, the agency said.

The commission said it would also release a new negative list for foreign investment in the first six months of the year to “substantially relax foreign investment access”.

The new list will include the already announced opening of the financial services and auto sectors, and expand to include further opening for the energy, resources, infrastructure, transportation, and other sectors, the NRDC announcement said.



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