Pork trade issues still exist with China: N.P.P.C.

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – Although struggling U.S. pork producers are pleased that China and the U.S. reached an agreement last week to reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork imports, the National Pork Producers Council continues to urge the administration to press China to address other trade-related issues it claims are limiting U.S. pork imports. Such issues include China’s ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine; subsidies China provides its domestic pork producers; and a value-added tax it imposes on imports.

Regarding last week’s agreement, once both countries finalize export documentation, pork trade will resume immediately. China closed its market to U.S. pork in late April 2009 following an outbreak in humans of novel H1N1 influenza, which the media misnamed “swine” flu.

“This is great news for U.S. pork producers,” said Sam Carney, N.P.P.C. president and a pork producer from Adair, Iowa, regarding last week’s agreement. “China is one of our biggest markets, so being able to ship pork there is extremely important to the U.S. pork industry, which has been hurting economically for more than two years now.

“With the lifting of the H1N1 ban on U.S. pork, we will focus on the remaining impediments to exporting U.S. pork to China,” Mr. Carney added.

In 2008, the U.S. pork industry shipped nearly 400,000 metric tons of pork worth nearly $690 million to China/Hong Kong, making it the No. 3 destination for U.S. pork. Last year, U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong were down by 38%, falling to just under $427 million.

At the conclusion of the annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting last October, China announced it would rescind its pork import ban. Since then, N.P.P.C. said it has 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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