The announcement of a new agreement that will open China to Canadian beef appears to be a significant development and a sign of a warming political relationship between the two nations, according to officials of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), who are interested to see the ramifications of this agreement for U.S. beef. USMEF estimates the value of the China market for U.S. beef exports to be upwards of $200 million.
“Canada has been very flexible in working with governments along the Pacific Rim to adapt agreements to regain access for Canadian beef,” said USMEF officials, who believe the Canada/China agreement may be similar to the agreement which has produced the complete restoration of access for Canadian beef to the Hong Kong market. “This deal with China is the latest and most commercially significant breakthrough by the Canadian government on behalf of its beef industry, and appears to be a solution fashioned in recognition of the needs and expectations of China.”
Early reports indicate that the Canada/China agreement will be a staged process starting with access for beef from cattle under 30 months of age as well as beef tallow for industrial use. USMEF officials will be watching for final details of the Canada/China agreement. USMEF officials note that Canada and the United States have received the same “controlled risk” designation from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
“It is evident that the Canadian government at its highest levels has made restoring beef access to key export markets a top priority on its foreign trade agenda,” USMEF officials said, observing that the agreement was signed by ministers in the presence of the two nations’ presidents. “We understand that U.S. government negotiators will meet again with their Chinese counterparts soon to take their engagement process to the next step. Given the size and importance of the Chinese market, the U.S. beef industry has made restoring beef access to China its highest trade priority.”
Statement From President Steve Foglesong
The following is a statement from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Steve Foglesong regarding yesterday’s announcement that China will resume imports of Canadian beef. China has been closed to U.S. and Canadian beef imports since an outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003. Despite the fact that Canada and the U.S. currently share the same international BSE-risk status, China remains the only major market completely closed to U.S. beef imports.
“China is thwarting us almost across the board on animal agriculture trade issues, while the level of U.S. engagement has been poor at best. Over the past three years, and two administrations, we’ve seen little progress in opening the Chinese market to U.S. beef. While the Administration has said this is a priority, they have failed to take action, despite the fact that China represents one of the largest potential growth markets for our industry, worth in excess of $200 million.
“In addition, Congress’ attitude of ‘do as we say, not as we do,’ when it comes to science-based trade protocols—as we’ve seen in the case of the cooked poultry issue with China—is continuing to hurt our reputation with international trading partners. This is further hindering our ability to move forward on trade deals that could open up the doors for U.S. beef overseas. We’re now in the position of being outpaced and outhustled by competing nations, putting American jobs and market share at risk.
“With ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, it’s absolutely critical that we expand our opportunities to sell beef in the international marketplace if we want to keep American family farms in business.”
Posted by Kaci Switzer