U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced yesterday that the United States is requesting that the World Trade Organization (WTO) establish a dispute settlement panel to address China’s imposition of anti-dumping  and countervailing duties on imports of chicken broiler products from the United States. China imposed these duties in August and September of 2010, claiming that U.S. broiler products were subsidized and sold at less than fair value into the Chinese market.

The request for a panel is the next step in the WTO dispute settlement process after requesting consultations.  The United States requested consultations in September 2011 on the duties imposed by China.  Consultations were held in Geneva on October 28 but the dispute was not resolved.

WTO rules do permit China to impose duties on imports that are subsidized or dumped, provided those imports cause injury to the domestic market.  However, WTO rules require that WTO members follow specific procedures and apply defined legal standards when conducting the investigations that determine whether duties are warranted.  The request by the United States to establish a dispute settlement panel maintains that Chinese authorities failed to abide by the required procedures and legal standards.  The United States charges that China did not follow the required procedures when it concluded that injury was caused to China’s domestic industry because China did not objectively examine the evidence, improperly calculated dumping margins and subsidization rates, and failed to to adhere to various transparency and due process requirements.

“The United States will not stand idly by while China appears to have misused its trade remedy laws and put American jobs at risk,” said Ambassador Kirk.  “We are serious about holding China accountable to its WTO commitments and ensuring that there is a level playing field for American businesses–including our farmers.”

Prior to imposing these duties, the United States was the largest exporter of broiler products to China.  Since the duties were imposed, U.S. exports have fallen by nearly 90 percent.