January 23, 2019
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In new sign of trade war, China slaps U.S. sorghum producers with 179 percent deposit

Rodolfo Gonzalez | Austin American-Statesman | TNS
Rodolfo Gonzalez | Austin American-Statesman | TNS
A migrant farm worker marks the row of sorghum the workers are walking and working in Plainview, Texas, Aug. 18, 2015.

BEIJING — China announced Tuesday temporary anti-dumping measures on U.S. sorghum, potentially hitting U.S. growers and exacerbating the brewing trade war between Beijing and Washington.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said that starting Wednesday, U.S. growers will be required to put down a 178.6 percent deposit after an investigation found U.S. subsidies were hurting Chinese growers.

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

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The possibly linked moves take place against a backdrop of heightened tension between the world’s two largest economies. In recent months, the U.S. 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 U.S. sorghum was being dumped on the Chinese market. Likely not coincidentally, U.S. critics often accuse China of dumping its own products, such as aluminum in January.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said U.S. sorghum exports to China rose from 317,000 tons in 2013 to 4.76 million tons in 2017, while price of the exported sorghum fell in 31 percent — 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,” Wang Hejun, director of the ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, wrote in a statement.

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

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