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Juice Exporters Beat US Bar

Five Chinese apple juice exporters have had United States tariffs on their products dropped after successfully defending dumping charges.

Their tariff has been cut to zero from 51.74 percent, a government official said Thursday.

In a first for Chinese agriculture, the exporters won an appeal to the US-based Court of International Trade.

The US Department of Commerce said it will return the US$3 million in tariffs (together with 10 percent interest) imposed since the dispute began.

In 1999, eight American juice makers accused Chinese counterparts of dumping apple juice on the US market and asked for a tariff of 91.84 percent. After a year-long investigation, the US Department of Commerce imposed an average tariff of 51.74 percent on Chinese apple juice.

Nine Chinese companies, accounting for 70 percent of the country's apple juice exports, then appealed to the Court of International Trade.

Last year, China, the largest apple juice supplier to the US market, exported 400,000 tons of apple juices worldwide.

The Chinese firms disagreed with the US Department of Commerce on the third-party reference price. The US department set a reference price of US$47 a ton while the Chinese fought for US$29 a ton, which was used for Indian apple juice exports.

The outcome was tariff exemption for five of the companies and a tariff limit of 4 percent for the other four firms.

"The success is encouraging in a climate where similar crises are happening in China," said Xu Ping, an official with the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products, which organized the appeal. "Trade disputes are common in a global market. We shall keep on trying. This case shows the importance of being confident - never easily giving up."

Le Jingna, an official with Shaanxi Haisheng Fresh Fruit Juice Co Ltd, China's largest apple juice exporter, said the key was to employ an experienced lawyer.

Le said his company, one of the five now exempt from tariffs, spent US$3.2 million on lawyers but the expenditure was worthy.

Chinese apple juice makers not involved in the case still face a 51.74 percent tariff.

(Shanghai Daily February 13, 2004)

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