WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2016 - China has lifted its 13-year-old ban on U.S. beef, clearing the way for negotiations between the two countries over the specific conditions under which trade can resume.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said China’s announcement indicates it will accept beef from animals under 30 months of age.
“This announcement is a critical first step to restore market access for U.S. beef and beef products,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “True access to China's beef market – consistent with science-based, international standards for trade – remains a top priority for the United States.”
Both NCBA and the U.S. Meat Export Federation welcomed the announcement, but USMEF noted it’s just the beginning of a process that will involve negotiations between USDA and China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
“USMEF looks forward to learning more details about the remaining steps necessary for the market to officially open and for U.S. suppliers to begin shipping product,” Philip M. Seng, president and CEO of USMEF, said in a brief statement.
“This is great news for U.S. beef producers,” said Kent Bacus, NCBA’s director of international trade. But, he cautioned, “While these initial reports are positive, we must continue technical negotiations and undergo the process of formally approving export certificates. China is already the world’s second largest buyer of beef, and with a growing middle class, the export opportunities for U.S. cattlemen and women are tremendous.”
Bacus also used the news as an opportunity to push for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal whose chances of congressional approval appear to be fading. Vice President Joe Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City Wednesday that he thought the TPP stands a “less than even chance” of passage, according to Reuters.
China banned U.S. imports in 2003 after mad cow disease was first discovered in the United States. In fiscal 2003, U.S. beef exports totaled $3 billion, or 900,000 tons, to 112 countries, but fell to $1.1 billion, or 300,000 tons, in FY 2004. By FY 2015, exports totaled $5.8 billion (800,000 tons) to 112 countries.
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