Senators want USTR involved in China dispute

Bipartisan letter asks USTR to work on resolving DDGs and other biotechnology concerns with China.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), have asked for the U.S. Trade Representative to work with China on resolving trade concerns related to the rejection of dried distillers grains shipments.

In the letter to Ambassador Michael Froman, the senators conveyed their strong concerns over the rejections of U.S. export shipments of DDGS that contained traces of a U.S. approved trait, but was still under regulatory consideration by the Chinese government.

“We urge you to work with China to restore the flow of trade as quickly as possible and to develop a more consistent set of rules governing the trade of new crop technologies between the two countries,” the letter said.

China is the top destination for U.S. exports of DDGS, totaling 4 million tons valued at $1.6 billion in 2013. “Every link in the DDGs supply chain – including ethanol producers, corn farmers, and shippers – have already incurred significant economic damages due to these actions by the Chinese government,” the letter added.

The senators explained that the DDGs trade disruption is another example of the regulatory challenges the industry has face with China since it began blocking U.S. corn shipments in November 2013. The senators wrote, “We encourage you to work closely with China to promote a science-driven review process for agricultural biotechnology that issues determinations without undue delay, consistent with WTO member country obligations.”

The letter added that achieving greater cooperation between the two countries on trade issues involving new crop technologies is essential to maintaining the U.S. position as the leading agricultural exporter worldwide.

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