China’s quarantine rules for US farm products not part of bilateral trade dispute

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/8 22:53:39

Chinese customs announced Monday that it will step up quarantine checks on imports of apples and logs from the US. Some US observers believe the quarantine checks could be retaliation for US protectionist measures. However, the move by Chinese customs involves just routine inspections, and it should not be connected to other cases.

The news came after Neofabraea perennans, Ips grandicollis and other pests were detected in US apples and logs at several ports in China. It is normal to see enhanced inspection to ensure all shipments of apples and logs carrying diseases could be returned or destroyed.

In April, China announced plans to increase tariffs on $50 billion of US goods in response to possible US tariff hikes by US President Donald Trump. However, the policy has yet to take effect. China has exercised maximum restraint in the ongoing trade dispute with the US. Beijing's attitude toward the trade war will depend on what protectionist measures Washington might take. The trade dispute between the two countries was initiated by the US, and China has so far taken a defensive position.

People in China are unwilling to see US exports become a casualty of bilateral trade spats. China is reportedly the third-largest export market for fresh cherries from the US. The flourishing fruit trade has brought benefits to people on both sides.

In 2017, the US sold $18 million worth of fresh apples to China, Reuters reported. American farmers will suffer big losses if such exports fall or even end.

That's why people in the US are so nervous. Farmers there fear they will be the targets of China's countermeasures as their government steps up trade war rhetoric. In this context, any small action taken by China may touch a sensitive nerve among US farmers.

This reminds China that the government can take some measures that comply with world trade rules to deal with risks arising from the trade war. If people in the US like to regard those actions as retaliation from Beijing, we can't do anything about that. Chinese people are fond of fresh apples from the US, but the fruit has to satisfy all the requirements imposed by China to access the Chinese market.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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