China drops sanctions probe into US sorghum imports


China says it is dropping an anti-dumping probe into sorghum imports from the US, as the two sides discuss ways of easing trade tensions.

In April, Beijing introduced a high tariff on the imports as part of a tit-for-tat trade spat between with the US.

But China's commerce ministry has now said the measures affect consumers and are not in the public interest.

The US is the world's leading producer of sorghum, and is the largest supplier of the grain to China.

Sorghum is a grain used primarily to feed livestock, but it is also used to create ethanol, or drinking alcohol.

China said a final ruling on whether to continue April's 178.6% tariffs would be made after a further investigation.

Olive branch

Under his "America First" slogan, US President Donald Trump promised to counter what he describes as unfair global trade practices that put the US economy at a disadvantage.

China and the US have imposed – or threatened to impose – tariffs on various goods, in what observers warn could escalate into a larger trade war.

A delegation headed by China's Vice-Premier Liu He is currently in the US for trade talks and dropping the sorghum probe might be an olive branch for the negotiations.

Earlier this year, the US announced it would impose import taxes on aluminium – including but not exclusively those from China.

Beijing has since responded with retaliatory tariffs of its own against the US on a range of goods, including pork and wine.

The US also claims that China has unfair intellectual property practices, such as those that have allegedly pressurised US companies into sharing technology with Chinese firms when doing business in the country.

Beijing, meanwhile, continues to claim that the US is dumping other products at cheaper-than-market prices into China, which is hurting Chinese farmers and manufacturers.

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