USMEF hopes deal will alter China's stance on pork, beef bans

Oct 2, 2009
by WLJ
USMEF hopes deal will alter China’s stance on pork, beef bans

A decision last week by U.S. lawmakers to stop banning processed chicken imports from China paves the way for new negotiations that may remove Chinese trade barriers on U.S. beef and pork exports, Jon Caspers, chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), said last Monday.

“I think (China is) going to be much more willing to engage in meaningful discussions,” Caspers told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview.

Throughout 2008 and 2009, U.S. lawmakers, concerned about sanitary conditions in Chinese chicken processing plants, stopped USDA from certifying China to export. But an agreement reached two weeks ago between those lawmakers and administration officials would let USDA finish the work it began years ago to open the U.S. market to processed chicken exports from China.

Caspers, who met last Monday with USDA Undersecretary Jim Miller, said the potential impacts of the chicken-import agreement were “huge.”

China has banned U.S. beef since December 2003 when the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in the U.S. and now China is banning U.S. pork, allegedly over swine flu concerns.

But it has been hard to argue with the Chinese when the U.S. would not allow in imports of processed chicken, Caspers said.

“If we can’t practice what we preach, we just can’t get very far in negotiations (with China) at all,” Caspers said. “On the one hand, we’re trying to tell them that we need to base access on risk-based scientific assessment, and on the other hand, we put in place barriers of our own that are completely unscientific.” — DTN