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Obama administration launches trade challenge against China

WASHINGTON _ The Obama administration has launched its 15th challenge against China at the Word Trade Organization, alleging it is unfairly limiting American farmers’ ability to export rice, wheat and corn.

During China’s accession to the WTO, it agreed to permit a certain amount of grain and corn to enter the country subject to a reduced tariff rate. The administration says it’s filing the challenge to hold China to that commitment.

Exporters are sometimes concerned that countries make it difficult to take advantage of the lower tariff rates. U.S. trade officials describe China’s system as “not transparent, predictable or fair.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says China has become a significant market for American grain farmers but that the U.S. could do much better.

Lawmakers from both political parties are applauding the challenge.