U.S. wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas
(Adds reaction from China's commerce ministry, paragraphs
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, April 18 (Reuters) - The United States won a World
Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Thursday against China's use
of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat and corn, which it
successfully argued limited market access for U.S. grain
The case, lodged by the Obama administration in late 2016,
marked the second U.S. victory in as many months. It came amid
U.S.-China trade talks and on the heels of Washington clinching
a WTO ruling on China's price support for grains in March.
A WTO dispute panel ruled on Thursday that under the terms
of its 2001 WTO accession, China's administration of the tariff
rate quotas (TRQs) as a whole violated its obligation to
administer them on a "transparent, predictable and fair basis".
TRQs are two-level tariffs, with a limited volume of imports
allowed at the lower 'in-quota' tariff and subsequent imports
charged an "out-of-quota" tariff, which is usually much higher.
The administration of state trading enterprises and
non-state enterprises' portions of TRQs are inconsistent with
WTO rules, the panel said.
Australia, Brazil, India, and the European Union were among
those reserving their rights in the dispute brought by the
world's largest grain exporter.
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue welcomed the decision,
saying China's system "ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling,
denying U.S. farmers access to China's market for grain".
If China's TRQs had been fully used, $3.5 billion worth of
corn, wheat and rice would have been imported in 2015 alone, it
said, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.
The two WTO rulings would help American farmers "compete on
a more level playing field", the USTR statement said, adding:
"The (Trump) Administration will continue to press China to
promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”
The latest WTO panel said that the United States had not
proven all of its case, failing to show that China had violated
its public notice obligation under the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in respect to TRQs.
China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Friday
it "regrets" the panel's decision and that it would "earnestly
evaluate" the panel's report.
China would "handle the matter appropriately in accordance
with WTO dispute resolution procedures, actively safeguard the
stability of the multilateral trading system and continue to
administer the relevant agricultural import tariff quotas in
compliance with WTO rules", it said.
Either side can appeal the ruling within 60 days.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Additional reporting by John
Ruwitch and Wang Jing in SHANGHAI; Editing by Michael Shields &
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