Visitors to the 21st China Beijing International High-tech Expo look at robots and helicopter drone displayed in Beijing, China, Thursday, May 17, 2018. The Trump administration has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese imports to punish Beijing over trade practices requiring American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market. China has counterpunched by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
HONG KONG (AP) — As China-U.S. trade talks resumed in Washington, China said Friday it is dropping anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into imported U.S. sorghum, saying it is not in the public interest.
The Commerce Ministry said it was ending the anti-dumping probe because it would have raised costs for consumers.
The announcement was a possible sign Beijing is willing to make a deal with Washington amid talks between senior U.S. and Chinese officials aimed at averting a trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
China started investigating U.S. sorghum in February after finding that large volumes and falling prices hurt Chinese producers. Authorities imposed preliminary anti-dumping tariffs of 178.6 percent last month on the crop, which is used primarily for animal feed and liquor.
In the course of its investigation, the ministry concluded that, "Anti-dumping and countervailing measures against imported sorghum originating in the United States would affect the cost of living of a majority of consumers and would not be in the public interest," according to a notice posted on its website.
It said it had received many reports that the investigation would result in higher costs for the livestock industry, adding that many domestic pig farmers were facing hardship because of declining pork prices.
The probe had also sparked fears among American farmers that they would lose their largest export market for the crop.
President Donald Trump's administration has proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products to punish Beijing for requiring U.S. companies to turn over technology in exchange for access to China's market. China has responded by targeting $50 billion in U.S. imports. Neither country has yet imposed tariffs.
Trump met Thursday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the leader of China's delegation for the negotiations in Washington. Trump told reporters that he had doubts about the potential for an agreement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading the talks with Chinese officials.