China resumes U.S. pork imports

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – On May 14, China gave official notice it is accepting shipments of U.S. pork, over a year after imports were banned over the outbreak of H1N1 influenza in the U.S. Pork produced on or after May 1 now can be exported to China.

In 2008, the U.S. pork industry exported 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.

Late in April 2009, China closed its market to U.S. pork in the wake of an outbreak in humans of novel H1N1 influenza, which was misnamed “swine” flu by many in the media. In March 2010, the U.S. and China reached an agreement to reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork imports. However, it took China this long to begin accepting product.

“This is tremendous news for U.S. pork producers,” said Sam Carney, president of the National Pork Producers Council who is also pork producer from Adair, Iowa. “China is one of our biggest markets, so being able to ship pork there is extremely important to the U.S. pork industry. Now that it can be sent to the Chinese market, we will focus on the remaining impediments to exporting U.S. pork to China.”

Despite this good news, N.P.P.C. continues urging 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, an F.D.A.-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.

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