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Sen. Schumer Slams China For ‘Honey Laundering’
By Paul Bedard, Editor, Washington Whispers, U.S. News and World Report
Concerns that China is dumping contaminated honey into the U.S. market, often laundered through third countries to avoid stiff anti-dumping tariffs, was raised in Congress today before a commission tasked with reviewing the 10-year-old deal to give the communist nation permanent normal trade relations (PNTR).
“Even our honey industry is under siege from imports of Chinese-origin honey,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. “Ongoing schemes by Chinese exporters to circumvent U.S. anti-dumping, food labeling and food safety laws, threaten the continued health of the U.S. honey industry and by extension the health of agricultural industries.”
Schumer said that China is guilty of violating anti-dumping laws, is running honey through several other countries then into the United States to avoid tariffs, and is even shipping honey contaminated with antibiotics.
“It’s just an indication of what China is doing to flaunt our laws,” the Democrat told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission is tasked with monitoring and reporting on the successes and failures of the 2000 preferred trade status former President Clinton and the Senate granted to China amid claims it would open China’s doors to American businesses.
Schumer and three other senators -- Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham -- all blasted the 2000 deal as hollow and one that has instead robbed over 2 million jobs and led to the closure of firms that can’t compete with Chinese exports.
While the senators mostly criticized Chinese tariffs on American products like cars and the alleged manipulation of their currency to keep product prices low, Schumer used the commission hearing to raise issues about the honey trade. He said that America imports just over half the honey it uses, with much of that coming from countries that either make no honey or that don’t make enough for domestic consumption and that are presumably selling Chinese honey.
“Four of the top eight [supplying] countries, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia, export far more honey than their domestic bees produce,” argued Schumer. “This trans-shipment, we call it ‘honey laundering,’ the intentional mislabeling of the country of origin, is costing the U.S. millions of dollars in unpaid duties and putting customers at risk for honey contaminated with antibiotics, a problem common with Chinese honey,” he added.
He also said that some of the Chinese honey comes into the U.S. market intentionally mislabeled as “sweetener” to get around anti-dumping laws. He claimed that 160 million pounds of mislabeled honey was imported over the last two years, costing the government $200 million in unpaid anti-dumping duties.
A Schumer aide said that he raised the honey dumping issue because New York is the nation’s 12 largest honey producer and Empire State beekeepers are under pressure to keep prices competitive with imported honey. The commission didn’t comment on his argument, though one member said that the plight of American jobs due to China’s bad trading practices will be addressed in the panel’s next report.
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