China threatens retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent on US pork
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to place tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods, according to a presidential memorandum signed March 22. The tariffs are in response to “China’s acts, policies and practices involving the unfair and harmful acquisition of US technology,” according to USTR.

In response, China warned that it could place tariffs on 128 US products including a 25 percent tax on pork products and recycled aluminum imports from the US.

North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter commented in response to China’s announcement, “The decision by the Chinese government to levy 25 percent tariffs on US pork will significantly curtail exports to this critical market at a time when China is expanding hog production, pushing domestic pork prices lower.

Barry Carpenter, North American Meat Institute
Barry Carpenter, CEO, North American Meat Institute

“These retaliatory tariffs will disproportionately affect hardworking American pork packers and producers, who will bear the main burden of these measures in the form of lost revenue and restricted market access, particularly as US pork production is slated to rise this year.”

In 2017, China was the second largest volume market and third largest value market for US pork exports, totaling more than $1.1 billion, according to NAMI.

Dan Halstrom, US Meat Export Federatiion (USMEF)
Dan Halstrom, CEO, US Meat Export Federation

“The announcement by the Chinese government that it is placing pork on a list of US products that could be subject to increased import duties is cause for great concern in the pork industry,” US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in a statement. “China is a key market for US pork and especially for pork variety meat. In 2017, the US industry exported 309,284 metric tons (mt) of pork and pork variety meat to China, valued at $663.1 million — our third-largest international market by volume and fourth-largest by value. For variety meat exports only, China was our largest destination in both volume (181,351 mt) and value ($425.2 million). In fact, China accounted for more than one third of US pork variety meat exports last year.

“Variety meat exports make a very important contribution to hog carcass value, and last year these exports to China alone equated to more than $3.50 per US hog slaughtered. China is a price-sensitive market, so any tariff rate increase would affect the competitive position of US pork.”

The National Pork Producers Council also expressed concerns about the tariffs and the potential impact they could have on the US pork industry.

Jim Heimerl, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
Jim Heimerl, president, National Pork Producers Council

“We sell a lot of pork to China, so higher tariffs on our exports going there will harm our producers and undermine the rural economy,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “No one wins in these tit-for-tat trade disputes, least of all the farmers and the consumers.

“When it comes to trade, we expect all countries to follow international rules and to trade fairly,” Heimerl said. “We also expect all countries to resolve trade disputes in a way that doesn’t harm businesses, farmers and consumers.”

Carpenter added, “It’s clear the future growth of the US meat sector, and agricultural economy, depends upon a robust trade relationship with China — one that adheres to international standards, embraces fair trade, supports American job growth and expands access of high-quality US meat products to a growing consumer base.

“We once again urge the Trump Administration to pursue constructive negotiations with the Chinese government to prevent further escalation of a trade war that will undoubtedly harm US businesses and consumers.”