U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk announces a U.S. challenge to China tariffs on chickens.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- The United States is pushing back against a Chinese tariff that has virtually wiped out chicken exports to the world's largest nation.
Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Tuesday that the United States is complaining to the World Trade Organization about the tariffs, which in some instances have more than doubled the price of U.S. chickens in China.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce imposed the tariffs last September, accusing the United States of dumping chickens into the Chinese market.
Some 35 companies were singled out and faced tariffs of between 50.3% and 53.4%. All U.S. producers not named have weathered a Chinese tariffs of 105.4%.
U.S. trade officials say that the tariffs have hit the U.S. poultry industry to the tune of between $500 million and $1 billion, with 90% of poultry sales to China wiped out.
"We continue to believe a two-way trade can work for the American people when we insist that China lives by its commitments, and maintains a level playing field for American producers to compete for Chinese consumers," Kirk said.
The move is the latest salvo in prickly trade relations between the two countries. The United States now has at least six cases involving China at the World Trade Organization, attorneys for the U.S. Trade Office said.
In 2009, President Obama slapped so-called "safeguard" emergency tariffs on Chinese tires, a move the WTO upheld.
In the poultry case, one of the things the United States will challenge is the formula China used to justify its tariffs against U.S. poultry. The WTO allows tariffs on products that are subsidized or sold below market value. But trade officials will be accusing China, among other things, of making wrong calculations.
"The U.S. industry agrees that the Chinese methodology was seriously flawed and that the anti-dumping proceeding did not comply with international rules," according to a statement by the National Chicken Council and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.
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