China said Wednesday that tariffs it imposed on imports of U.S. chicken last year are legal, after the United States filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization saying Beijing violated international trade rules.
The Commerce Ministry said on its website that China "believes the anti-dumping and countervailing measures it has taken on chicken products originating in the United States are in accordance with the law and conform to WTO rules."
The case is one of several that U.S. trade officials have filed against China this year at the WTO. The United States also has filed complaints about Chinese tariffs on steel products and its subsidies for wind power equipment.
The ministry said China would study Washington's request for talks on the issue and would handle the issue according to WTO dispute settlement procedures.
China imposed the poultry tariffs in September 2010. It said U.S. chicken producers benefited from subsidies and were exporting their goods to China at unfairly low prices.
Countries are allowed to impose punitive tariffs to offset both practices, but U.S. officials said China did not follow proper procedures when it imposed them.
The tariffs were imposed against Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride, Keystone Foods and many smaller companies, said Toby Moore, a spokesman for the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council, a trade group.
China was among the top two markets for U.S. chicken exports before the tariffs were imposed. The other was Russia. Since then, exports have dropped 90 percent, U.S. trade officials said. That could cost more than $1 billion over two years.