China has dropped its anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into US sorghum imports, its commerce ministry said on Friday, extending a possible olive branch as the two countries hold fraught trade talks.
Imposing punitive measures would “affect the cost of living of large numbers of (Chinese) consumers and would not be in the public interest", the ministry said. An investigation team found that such measures would also particularly hit livestock breeders struggling to make ends meet as domestic pork prices fall, it added.
The move was announced hours after a delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu He met US President Donald Trump. The trade talks, which aim to prevent a damaging trade war, will continue on Friday. China announced last month that it was slapping provisional anti-dumping duties on US sorghum imports, ordering importers to pay Chinese customs a deposit amounting to 178.6 per cent of the value of sorghum brought in. A final ruling on whether to impose tariffs was to be made after a further investigation. Instating tariffs on sorghum would have 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. The US shipped 4.8 million tonnes of sorghum to China last year, compared with 317,000 tonnes in 2013, according to Wang Hejun, director of the commerce ministry's trade remedy and investigation bureau.
Yet the average price per tonne dropped 31 per cent during the same period, which "caused a fall in prices of Chinese sorghum", Wang said.
The Washington talks follow tit-for-tat levies and threats of more duties, with the US mulling 25 per cent punitive duties on up to USD 150 billion in Chinese goods and Beijing targeting USD 50 billion in US exports.
The dispute centres on US complaints about investment restrictions, theft of American intellectual property and overproduction of metals.
In Beijing, the commerce ministry said yesterday that China hoped the two sides could resolve the trade frictions during the latest talks.
But in Washington, President Donald Trump expressed doubt they would be successful, stating: "China has become very spoiled... because they always got 100 percent of whatever they wanted from the United States."