"The China case used 'average cost of production' to determine normal value rather than using domestic U.S. market prices for comparable sales as is customary," the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and National Chicken Council said in a joint statement.
There's a bigger issue at stake, said William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which advocates free-trade policies.
"While the complaint focuses correctly on the details of this particular case, it appears that the larger issue is the extent to which the Chinese actually conduct a fair, impartial, fact-based investigation versus the extent to which they use these cases — and determine the outcomes_ based on achieving political or trade policy objectives of their own," he said.
A senior USTR official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the case more freely, said that China has publicly stated that it would use trade penalties to retaliate against U.S. trade actions. The official said China has repeatedly "misused" its legitimate authority to probe unfair trade.
Penalties it imposed last year on U.S. poultry were widely seen as retaliation for U.S. moves against imports of steel products and tires from China. But there's also a less-known reason for China's unhappiness, one that's grounded in legitimate concern.
China has been trying to export cooked poultry products to the United States for several years, but after investing time and money in order to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, it saw Congress pass legislation that yanked funding for the USDA's share of the effort after several high-profile problems with tainted food products in China.
(Tom Lasseter contributed to this article from in Beijing.)
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