China announces anti-dumping measures on United States sorghum

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Fears of a trade war with the United States have also roiled markets in recent weeks, with Washington and Beijing exchanging warnings of tit-for-tat tariffs on a significant portion of their bilateral trade.

China relies nearly entirely on the United States for its sorghum, importing about $1 billion worth of the grain a year.

Earlier this month, the Chinese commerce ministry threatened to impose a 25% duty on U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans, wheat, and beef, in response to the United States proposal to levy duties on Chinese high-tech goods.

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China on Tuesday ordered importers of USA sorghum to pay deposits for possible higher tariffs in an anti-dumping investigation, adding to growing trade conflict with Washington.

Investigators concluded dumping of USA sorghum "substantially damaged" Chinese competitors, the Commerce Ministry said. Iowa, America's top pork-producing state, voted for Trump in 2016 but went to the Democrats in the previous two presidential elections.

It said the investigation had found Chinese imports of sorghum had increased 14-fold in the five years from 2013 even as the price for the commodity fell 31 percent.

The ministry launched the investigation in February in what many observers said was meant as a retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines late a year ago.

"The biggest challenge for China's economy this year is a possible slump in the growth of consumer spending", said Jiang Chao, chief economist at Haitong Securities.

The highly symbolic moves in autos come after President Xi Jinping said last week China would scrap ownership limits "as soon as possible".

That will be followed by a similar repeal for makers of commercial vehicles in 2020 and passenger vehicles in 2022. "More or less, Chinese brands already compete with them on a similar level in electric cars".

The NDRC also said the shipbuilding industry will do away this year with foreign ownership restrictions for firms designing, making and repairing vessels.

Until now, global automakers such as General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen (VLKAY) have been allowed to own no more than 50 percent of a joint venture with a Chinese partner and were limited to two ventures. Sales of sedans, SUVs and minivans a year ago totaled 24.8 million units, about 55 percent of which was American, European, Japanese and Korean brands.