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WTO to examine U.S.-China dispute on grain import quotas

The World Trade Organization said on Monday it would review a long-standing dispute between the China and the United States on Beijing’s use of import controls for rice, wheat and corn.

The Geneva-based trade watchdog ruled in 2019 against China’s use of tariff-rate quotas for agricultural imports, which Washington successfully argued had limited market access for U.S. grain exports. Such quotas allow a specified quantity of goods to be imported at lower rates than usual.

China has said it has since implemented the WTO recommendations but the United States does not agree and last month said it was entitled to take “countermeasures” against Beijing, without providing details of the level of retaliation.

“The United States is not in a position to agree with China that it has come into compliance with the DSB (dispute settlement body) recommendations in this dispute,” a U.S. delegate told the closed-door meeting on Monday, according to comments shared by the U.S. mission in Geneva.

However, the delegate expressed a willingness to work with Beijing to resolve the dispute.

China’s mission in Geneva did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A trade official attending the meeting said China’s delegate expressed deep concern about the U.S. approach to this dispute, adding that it was up to Washington to prove it was at fault.

The WTO’s dispute settlement panel usually presents its ruling to the parties involved within six months, after a series of hearings and consultations.