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China launches anti-dumping probe into EU pork imports

Pork is China's most popular meat and a staple of diets in the world's second most populous nation (WANG Zhao)
Pork is China's most popular meat and a staple of diets in the world's second most populous nation (WANG Zhao)

China said Monday it had launched an anti-dumping investigation into pork imports from the European Union, the latest step in a mounting trade stand-off between the bloc and its largest economic partner.

Pork is China's most popular meat and a staple of diets in the world's second most populous nation.

Imports of pork and pork by-products from EU nations totalled over three billion dollars last year, Beijing's customs data showed.

The probe is in response to an application submitted by a local trade grouping on behalf of domestic producers, Beijing said.

"The Ministry of Commerce has opened an anti-dumping investigation into imports of relevant pork and pig by-products originating from the European Union," the ministry said in a statement.

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It follows the bloc's decision last week to slap additional tariffs of up to 38 percent on Chinese electric car imports from next month after an anti-subsidy probe.

The European Commission pointed to "unfair subsidisation" in China, which it said "is causing a threat of economic injury" to EU electric car makers.

The European Commission has proposed provisional hikes of tariffs on Chinese manufacturers of 17.4 percent for market major BYD, 20 percent for Geely and 38.1 percent for SAIC.

- 'Room for understanding' -

The EU said the amount depended on the level of state subsidies received by the firms.

Beijing warned the tariffs would "harm Europe's own interests" and condemned the bloc's "protectionism".

And it ramped up threats that Beijing could target EU exports, including pork and dairy products, in the wake of the tariff announcement.

After China announced its pork investigation, the European Commission said Monday it "will follow the proceedings very closely in coordination with EU industry and our member states".

"We will intervene as appropriate to ensure that the investigation fully complies with all relevant World Trade Organization rules," spokesperson Olof Gill said.

Spain's agriculture minister Luis Planas said Monday he hoped there would be "room for understanding" over the decision.

The Iberian nation is the EU's largest exporter of pork products to China, selling over 560,000 tonnes to the world's second-largest economy last year at a total value of 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), according to industry body Interporc.

"I've said it time and again: trade wars are not good, especially in the agrifood sector, because in the end they affect the purchasing capacity of citizens and their ability to choose," Planas said.

- Other probes -

Beijing launched an anti-dumping investigation in January into brandy imported from the EU in a move seen as targeting France, which had pushed for the commission's probe.

It also launched an anti-dumping investigation in May into imports of a key engineering chemical from the EU, the United States, Taiwan and Japan.

Its commerce ministry said last week that domestic industries "have the right" to request probes into imports to "protect their own legitimate rights and interests".

Beijing also said last week it "reserves the right" to file a suit with the World Trade Organization over planned new EU tariffs.

Germany's economy minister Robert Habeck will visit China this week, with a spokesman saying he "will not be able to avoid addressing" the topic of tariffs.

mjw-oho/sn