China regrets WTO ruling in favour of US on subsidies

China is upset over the World Trade Organisation’s decision to side the US on Chinese subsidies. (Bloomberg pic)

BEIJING: China said on Friday it “regrets” a World Trade Organisation ruling in Washington’s favour over a dispute on Chinese subsidies to wheat and rice producers.

The decision comes as the world’s top two economies try to hammer out an agreement to settle a long-running trade row that has rattled global markets.

The United States in 2016 alleged that China doled out US$100 billion in “market price support” for wheat and rice as well as corn production, above levels agreed to at the Geneva-based WTO.

“The expert group did not support the Chinese position on the calculation of the subsidy level for our minimum purchase price policy on wheat and rice. The Chinese side regrets this,” the commerce ministry said in a statement.

China is the world’s largest producer of wheat and rice, holding significant sway over world markets.

WTO experts said they had found that each year from 2012 to 2015, China’s market price support for wheat, Indica rice and Japonica rice “exceeded its 8.5% the minimum level of support for each of these products”.

“Government support for domestic agriculture, guaranteeing farmers’ income, and maintaining food security are common practices in all countries and permitted by WTO rules,” the ministry said in the statement attributed to the head of its treaty and law department.

“China has always respected WTO rules and will carefully evaluate the expert group’s report, and properly handle it according to the WTO dispute settlement procedures,” it said.

Both sides have up to 60 days to appeal Thursday’s ruling.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue earlier hailed the ruling as a “significant victory for US agriculture” saying they hoped China would quickly come into compliance.