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China drops investigation, fee on U.S. sorghum

By Jessica Domel

Exactly one month after it began charging a 178.6 percent fee on U.S. sorghum, China’s minster of commerce announced Friday the country is dropping its anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations and the related fee.

“In the course of the investigation, the investigation agency received a large number of downstream users’ reports and believed that the case investigation would increase the cost of the downstream aquaculture industry. Anti-dumping and countervailing measures against imported sorghum originating in the United States would affect the cost of living of consumers and would not be in the public interest,” a translated statement from the Ministry of Commerce said. “After investigation, the investigation agency found that the price of domestic pork has been declining recently, and the livelihoods of many farmers are facing difficulties. Under this circumstance, anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against imported sorghum originating from the United States are not in the public interest.”

According to the statement, the People’s Republic of China intends to terminate the investigation and return the temporary anti-dumping deposit collected on U.S. grain sorghum.

“Certainly, it’s a very positive situation, and we’re gratified by the announcement,” Tim Lust, chief executive officer for National Sorghum Producers (NSP), said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network. “We agree with China that it is in their public interest to terminate the case, and we certainly look forward to continuing to deepen our trade ties with our Chinese partners and customers.”

China is the largest buyer of American grain sorghum.

NSP realizes the importance and impact of China dropping the investigations and the fees.

“It will take a little bit of time for trade to get back up and going,” Lust said. “For one thing, it’s the time of year where we don’t have a lot of grain, but harvest will start very soon in South Texas, and we’ll be able to move back into it.”

In mid-May, representatives from China and the United States met in Washington, D.C. for a week to discuss ongoing trade tensions, including the investigation of U.S. sorghum.

The United States continues to investigate the People’s Republic of China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation until Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

China and the U.S. have traded threats of tariffs on goods, including pork, beef, sorghum and cotton, for more than a month

“There’s still the 301 investigations and potential tariffs related to that, not only for our crop, but for basically all of the agricultural commodities,” Lust said. “We realize that, from a big picture standpoint, there’s still a lot going on from trade. But it’s a great day for us to be out from under the 178 percent tariff and very positive for sorghum farmers, as we have an opportunity to move back into what had become our largest market over the last five years.”

The 178.6 percent fee effectively stopped all sales of U.S. grain sorghum in China over the past month.

“We certainly appreciate the work of the White House and USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) and Secretary (of Agriculture) Sony Perdue and many others,” Lust said. “We work very closely with the U.S. Grains Council, who does all of our international markets, and we really appreciate the MOFCOM (Chinese Ministry of Commerce)—that they looked at these facts. They’re able to make this decision, and we’re able to move forward.”

Throughout the process, NSP cooperated fully with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and provided thousands of pages of responses demonstrating U.S. sorghum was being fairly traded with China.

“We demonstrated that we were helping, not injuring, Chinese customers and farmers, and it was in no one’s real interest to restrict this important trade,” Don Bloss, NSP Chairman, said.

In a joint statement with the United States on May 19, the two countries announced China will significantly increase purchases of U.S. goods and services to support growth and employment in the U.S.

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