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Trump, China reach agreement on next stages of beef trade

Progressive Cattleman Editor Cassidy Woolsey Published on 12 May 2017

Another needle has moved in events leading up to the long-awaited re-opening of U.S. beef access to China. On May 11, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a press release marking the first sign of progress on the 100-day action plan President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping called for during their meeting last month. And first in line is U.S. beef.

“We were excited that beef was the No. 1 point of the 10 points included in the 100-day plan,” said Kent Bacus, NCBA director of international trade and market access, in a conference hearing. “We are excited to learn more about this and the potential of U.S. beef entering into China.”

So what does this announcement mean?

According to Bacus, the first clue lies in the fact the summary document was released by the Department of Commerce. He explained that, first and foremost, there is one more round of technical consultations – but, second, following those consultations the Chinese will allow imports of U.S. beef beginning as soon as possible or before a deadline of July 16, 2017.

The new arrangement would allow the U.S. to export beef into China on conditions consistent with international food safety and animal health standards, and consistent with the 1999 agricultural cooperation, as outlined in the 100-day plan. Both countries have agreed to intensively make progress on key issues and plan to reach a consensus one month following the presidential summit.

“This development is another step closer to restoring access to China,” Bacus said, referring to the initial announcement made last September. “We’ve now gone through the technical process, and there’s been a lot of discussion addressing their concerns given the diversity of our industry and the vastness of the Chinese economy and their regulatory schemes.”

Bacus continued, “July 16, 2017 isn’t too far away, and so it’s a priority for both the U.S. government and the Chinese government to have this protocol finalized and ready to go so we can start sending beef to Chinese customers.”

Also involved in the conference hearing was Craig Uden, NCBA president. Reiterating the benefits of the market access, Uden explained this will give U.S. beef producers the opportunity to grow and maintain the industry – something that has been difficult to achieve with current supply and demand.

“As the industry went through the drought that shrank our herd numbers, we’ve seen a vast increase in our cattle numbers recovering,” Uden said. “We have a lot of protein on the market, and we have to have some place for it to go. We know that 96 percent of the world’s population lives outside of our borders and, particularly, one-fifth lives in China. All trade is important, but working with China would be a huge benefit to our industry.”

The details of the negotiation have not been released yet, but both Bacus and Uden mentioned NCBA’s involvement in educating the Chinese about the U.S. beef industry’s production practices. “We’re looking forward to seeing what those terms and protocols will be,” Bacus said.  end mark

Cassidy Woolsey
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