China launches anti-dumping investigation into EU pork imports

China’s probe into EU pork comes in retaliation to the bloc’s decision last week to add additional tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles.

Cured meat products made with pork
Cured meat products made with pork are displayed at a market stall in Rome, Italy [Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

China has opened an investigation into pork imports from the European Union after the bloc imposed anti-subsidy duties on Chinese-made electric cars.

China’s commerce ministry announced the investigation on Monday, saying it will focus on pork for human consumption, such as fresh, cold, and frozen whole cuts, as well as pig intestines, bladders, and stomachs.

“The Ministry of Commerce has opened an anti-dumping investigation into imports of relevant pork and pig by-products originating from the European Union,” the ministry said in a statement.

Pork is China’s most popular meat and a staple of diets across the country.

Beijing’s customs data show that imports of pork and pork byproducts from EU countries totalled over $3bn last year.

A staff member stocks a freezer where pork and other meat products are displayed
A staff member stocks a freezer where pork and other meat products are displayed, at a supermarket in Beijing, China on June 13, 2024 [File: Florence Lo/Reuters]

The probe into EU pork imports comes after the bloc’s decision last week to add additional tariffs, up to 38.1 percent, on Chinese electric car imports from next month after an anti-subsidy probe.

The European Commission pointed to “unfair subsidisation” in China, which it said “is causing a threat of economic injury” to EU electric car makers.

It proposed provisional hikes on tariffs on Chinese manufacturers of 17.4 percent for market major BYD, 20 percent for Geely and 38.1 percent for SAIC.

The state-backed Global Times newspaper first reported last month that Chinese firms planned to ask authorities to open an anti-dumping investigation into some European pork products, citing an unidentified “business insider”.

Chinese authorities have previously hinted at possible retaliatory measures through state media commentaries and interviews with industry.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said the bloc was not worried about China’s investigation and “will follow the proceedings very closely in coordination with EU industry and our member states”.

“We will intervene as appropriate to ensure that the investigation fully complies with all relevant World Trade Organization rules,” spokesperson Olof Gill said.

Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said that he hoped there would be “room for understanding” regarding the decision.

“I’ve said it time and again: trade wars are not good, especially in the agrifood sector, because in the end, they affect the purchasing capacity of citizens and their ability to choose,” Planas said.

Spain is the EU’s largest exporter of pork products to China, selling 560,488 tonnes to the world’s second-largest economy last year, at a total value of 1.2bn euros ($1.29bn), according to the industry body Interporc.

The Netherlands and Denmark ranked second and third in exporting pork products to China last year, worth $620m and $550m, respectively.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies