China hits US sorghum with anti-dumping measure

Beijing (AFP) - China announced Tuesday that it was slapping provisional anti-dumping duties on sorghum imported from the United States amid heightened trade tensions between the world's two top economies.

Fears of a trade war have been simmering in recent weeks, with Washington and Beijing exchanging tit-for-tat levies and threats of more duties on hundred of billions of dollars worth of goods.

Tariffs on sorghum would 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.

"There was dumping of imported sorghum grown in the United States and the domestic sorghum industry has suffered from substantial damage," the commerce ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it ordered importers to pay Chinese customs a deposit amounting to 178.6 percent of the value of imported sorghum.

The ministry will make a final ruling after further investigation, which may lead to anti-dumping tariffs.

The US shipped 4.8 million tonnes of sorghum to China last year, a fourteenfold increase from 317,000 tonnes in 2013, said Wang Hejun, director of the ministry's trade remedy and investigation bureau.

Meanwhile, the average price per tonne dropped 31 percent during the same period, which "caused a fall in prices of Chinese sorghum", Wang said.

The measure aims to "correct the unfair trade practices and maintain normal order of trade and competition," Wang said, adding that "China is willing to expand cooperation with the US side to narrow down differences in the field of trade".