U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers today announced the launch of trade enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The action challenges China’s use of “market price support” for three key crops (rice, wheat, and corn) in excess of China’s commitments under WTO rules.
“These programs distort Chinese prices, undercut American farmers, and clearly break the limits China committed to when they joined the WTO. As this Administration has consistently and repeatedly shown, we will not stand by when our trading partners fail to follow the rules like everyone else,” said Ambassador Froman. “We will aggressively pursue this challenge on behalf of American farmers and hold the Chinese government accountable to the standards of fair global trade.”
“Through tariff cuts and the removal of other trade barriers, China has gone from a $2-billion-a-year market for U.S. agricultural products to a $20-billion-plus market,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “But we could be doing much better, particularly if our grain exports could compete in China on a level playing field. Unfortunately, China’s price supports have encouraged wheat, corn and rice production in China that has displaced imports. When China joined the WTO, it committed to limit this kind of trade-distorting support, which it has failed to do. This has resulted in significant losses to American producers. We see substantial opportunities to meet import demand for grains in China if China is willing to operate a WTO-consistent trade regime.”
“If we are to remain competitive in the global marketplace, it is critical that our partners adhere to and abide by the same rules that we have all agreed to,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS), one of a number of agriculture state lawmakers who appeared with Vilsack and Froman at the press conference. Others included Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE).
Listen to the statements of all here: China Trade Challenge Press Conference