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Sunday, October 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

U.S. wins WTO case against China over grain exports

UPDATED: Thu., April 18, 2019, 7:49 p.m.

Jordan Green drives a combine while harvesting wheat on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, near Fairfield. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Jordan Green drives a combine while harvesting wheat on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, near Fairfield. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
By Paul Wiseman Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The World Trade Organization handed the United States a win Thursday in a trade dispute with China, ruling that Beijing did not fairly administer quotas on U.S. wheat, rice and corn.

The WTO, the Geneva organization that oversees the rules of global trade, found that China had not been transparent, predictable or fair in managing what are called tariff rate quotas on U.S. grain exports. The import tax, or tariff, is higher on U.S. grain shipments that exceed the quota.

The case, started by the Obama administration, is not directly related to a larger U.S.-China trade standoff: President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports in a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive drive to challenge U.S. technological dominance; China has retaliated by targeting $110 billion in U.S. products. The two countries are in talks to settle their differences.

The decision Thursday was the second U.S. victory over China this year in a trade dispute over agriculture. In February, the WTO ruled that China unfairly subsidized its grain producers.

“This second important victory for the United States further demonstrates that President Trump will take all steps necessary to enforce trade rules and to ensure free and fair trade for U.S. farmers,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “The Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”

China is likely to appeal Thursday’s decision, which means farmers in Washington won’t see immediate relief.

An appeal could drag on for at least two more years.

The Washington Grain Commission noted that if China had adhered to the rules, Pacific Northwest farmers would have been in good position.

The Spokesman-Review contributed to this report.

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