Measure abides by WTO rules, says MOFCOM
China's probe into sorghum imported from the U.S. is a "normal trade remedy case," and China strongly opposes any misuse of such measures, an official from China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said Thursday amid rising trade friction between the two countries.
"We will conduct trade remedy practices in strict accordance with the WTO rules and China's laws. We also hope that at the same time, other WTO members can obey international rules, and settle economic and trade disputes through dialogue and cooperation," Gao Feng, spokesperson for MOFCOM, told a press conference in Beijing on Thursday.
China's domestic sorghum industry has been damaged greatly by U.S. imports, and related authorities are conducting further analysis about the situation, Gao said.
The volume of China's imports of sorghum from the U.S. rose sharply from 2013 to 2016, with their market share in China surging from 8 percent to 61 percent, and the price dropped from 9.61 to 4.78 per ton, Gao said, citing statistics from China's Customs.
MOFCOM launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into imports of sorghum from the U.S. on Sunday, according to a statement released on its official website.
The investigation was initiated because the preliminary evidence showed that the domestic industry may have experienced "substantial harm" due to sorghum from the U.S. possibly being exported at a lower than normal value, the statement read.
Some Western analysts said the move was a form of "retaliation" against recent unilateral trade remedy measures by the U.S. targeting China.
In January, U.S. President Donald Trump approved high tariffs on imported solar panel modules and large washing machines.
Commenting on the tariffs, Gao said that China had "officially demanded talks on this issue with the U.S. via our delegation in the WTO on Tuesday, and the process is fully in accordance with WTO rules."
At the press conference, Gao also addressed China's stance on the U.S. Section 301 investigation into alleged intellectual property theft, saying that China opposed unilateral protectionist trade practices, and hoped that the U.S. would settle it "carefully," thus protecting the trade ties between the two countries.
The U.S. launched a Section 301 investigation based on its own domestic laws in August 2017, claiming that China's trade practices had harmed U.S. intellectual property rights, innovation and technological development.