Ag Today May 10, 2018

Spoiled Relations: U.S. Goods Stuck at China Ports as Tensions Heat Up

Fruits are at risk of rotting, while Ford vehicles may now need to be disassembled for Chinese customs officials

By Lucy Craymer, Joanne Chiu and Yoko Kubota
May 10, 2018 9:11 a.m. ET

Ford cars and California fruits are among the goods piling up at Chinese ports, the result of increased inspections that business groups say is China’s way of reminding the U.S. how important its market is to American exporters.

Navel oranges, lemons and cherries from California, along with American apples, have been sitting at Chinese wharves for longer than normal as Chinese inspectors spend more time inspecting the fruits for pests and decays, U.S. trade groups said.

Ford Motor Co. vehicles are likewise being subjected to unusually rigorous checks at the port, people familiar with the matter said. Pork is also coming under more frequent inspections, U.S. officials say, as U.S.-China trade tensions show no signs of easing.

The Chinese “are trying to identify industries or sectors that could put pressure on the administration to change its posture,” said Joel Nelsen, president of trade association California Citrus Mutual. He said inspectors are opening and sifting through most of the 900 cartons of citrus fruit in each shipping container.

William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said China appears to be following a tried-and-true playbook.

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