China reopens market to U.S. pork

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WASHINGTON — China gave official notice May 14 that it is accepting shipments of U.S. pork.

Pork produced on or after May 1 now can be exported to China.

The Asian nation closed its market to U.S. pork in late April 2009 in the wake of an outbreak in humans of novel H1N1 influenza, which the media misnamed “swine” flu. In March, the United States and China reached an agreement to reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork imports, but it took China until now to begin accepting product.

National Pork Producers Council President Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, Iowa, called the news “tremendous.”

“China is one of our biggest markets, so being able to ship pork there is extremely important to the U.S. pork industry,” Carney said. “Now that it can be sent to the Chinese market, we will focus on the remaining impediments to exporting U.S. pork to China.”

More battles

The pork group, however, is continuing to urge the Obama administration to press China to address a number of other trade-related issues that limit U.S. pork imports.

Among those issues are China’s ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine (link opens .pdf) — an FDA-approved feed ingredient that improves efficiency in pork production — subsidies China provides its domestic pork producers and a value-added tax it imposes on imports.

Big market

The U.S. pork industry exported nearly 400,000 metric tons of pork worth nearly $690 million to China/Hong Kong in 2008, making it the No. 3 destination for U.S. pork.

Last year, U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong were down by 38 percent, falling to just under $427 million.

In October, at the conclusion of the annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting, China announced that it would rescind its pork import ban. Since then, NPPC worked closely with the Obama administration to pressure the Chinese to actually lift their ban and begin accepting U.S. pork imports.

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