March 7, 2018 / 10:23 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazilian chicken firms fight China's dumping claim

(Adds more comment from Brazilian association ABPA)

SAO PAULO, March 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian chicken companies presented a formal defense on Wednesday against claims that they were dumping products on the Chinese market, trade group ABPA said in a statement, citing a Commerce Ministry hearing in Beijing.

Lawyers for the chicken companies went to the ministry to participate in the hearing and present their clients’ arguments, ABPA said.

China, which buys 9.2 percent of Brazilian chicken exports, opened an anti-dumping investigation against the country’s producers in August last year, threatening $761.1 million in export revenues, ABPA said.

The probe into imports of Brazilian broiler chicken deals another blow for the South American country’s meat industry, which is grappling with fallout from a food safety scandal that temporarily closed exports markets for the country last year. That includes allegations of fraud by food producers to avoid safety checks.

“We follow all rules of the World Trade Organization and do not practice dumping,” Francisco Turra, head of ABPA, said in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to maintain Brazil’s partnership with China, which resumed in 2009.”

China’s Commerce Ministry said last year that Brazil accounted for more than 50 percent of broiler product supplies to China, the world’s No. 2 poultry consumer, between 2013 and 2016.

Brazilian companies now have 10 days to respond to allegations made by the Chinese chicken producers at the hearing. There is no fixed deadline, but a decision on whether Beijing decides to impose anti-dumping measures may come 30 days after the Brazilians respond, ABPA said.

Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Frances Kerry and Susan Thomas

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