US Senators Call For China To Remove Unfair Trade Barriers

By Tom Barkley, Fox Business Key U.S. senators on trade issues urged China to lift barriers on beef and other agricultural imports Tuesday, following a government study that found tariffs and other restrictions were impeding up to $5.2 billion a year in sales. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.), along with Republicans Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), said the report shows that the second-largest importer of U.S. agricultural goods must take further steps to remove unfair trade barriers. "China's unjustified trade barriers are blocking some of our goods such as wheat and beef and hurting job growth in the U.S," said Baucus, who requested the report from the U.S. International Trade Commission along with Grassley. "U.S. producers should have full access to the Chinese market," said Grassley, calling on China to live up to its obligations in joining the World Trade Organization a decade ago. The independent government agency found that non-tariff measures, such as China's effective ban on U.S. beef, had resulted in lost U.S. exports of between $2.6 billion and $3.1 billion. In addition, removing tariffs and tariff-rate quotas--such as the 65% rate imposed on wheat or corn imports above the quota--could boost annual exports by another $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion. Poultry imports tumbled 80% last year after China imposed retaliatory duties on the U.S., resulting in a sales hit of about $360 million. "While USITC staff found little evidence of a coordinated effort across China's government agencies to broadly restrict agricultural imports, China bans or restricts entry of a number of agricultural products, or has threatened to do so," the report said, noting that U.S. pork and apple exports have been hurt by either delays in risk assessments or assessments that don't meet international scientific standards. Still, China has taken recent steps to remove some barriers, agreeing in December to work to lift restrictions on some U.S. beef that had been in place since the first case of mad-cow disease was discovered in 2003. Last week, Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) Chief Executive Larry Pope said he thinks it's very likely that pork would be on China's shortlist of commodity tariff reductions. The U.S. is the No. 1 supplier of agricultural products to China, accounting for 26% of imports last year. China, which in 2010 became the second-largest buyer of U.S. farm goods behind Canada, is both the world's biggest agricultural producer and consumer. But its imports are limited to a narrow range of products, with cotton and soybeans accounting for nearly half, according to the ITC. Read original post here