US, China strike deal on beef exports

US, China strike deal on beef exports
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The Trump administration said Monday it has finalized an agreement with China allowing the U.S. to restart beef exports after a nearly 14-year ban.

The Agriculture Department (USDA) outlined details that will allow cattle producers to begin shipping certain U.S. beef products to China after those exports were cut off in 2003 after mad cow disease affected some American herds.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in May that U.S. and Chinese officials were working on a framework to finally restart beef exports after Beijing had failed to fulfill repeated promises during the Obama administration to open up their market again.

"As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions," Ross said.

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Beef producers said the final deal will provide an economic boost to their industry, which has been working for years to re-establish sales of U.S. beef to China’s consumers.

The North American Meat Institute called the terms of the deal “very favorable.”

“The demand in China for high quality U.S. beef is high, so opening the market offers great potential for our businesses and the U.S. economy as a whole,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter.

The U.S.-China deal allows for qualified beef products produced after May 24 to be exported once a plant is approved by USDA that is eligible to send meat to China.

“In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef," said Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

"We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China," Uden said. 

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said cattle producers “will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class.”  

China imports an estimated $2.6 billion worth of beef each year from around the world.

Beef must come from the U.S., although it can be imported from Mexico or Canada slaughtered here. Cattle also must be less than 30 months of age.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) said “as one of the world's largest importers of beef, China has long-been an area of great opportunity for the U.S. beef industry.”

“Well today that ‘great opportunity’ becomes a one step closer to reality for cattle producers across the country, hopefully bringing an end to a 13-year drought on beef exports to China,” Conaway said.