WASHINGTON —  Bill Westman, the senior vice president of international affairs for the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), testified on April 26 to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing focused on China’s agricultural policies.  

Westman discussed opportunities and limitations affecting the US meat and poultry industry including the programs the Meat Institute supports in China and the Institute’s work with its Chinese partners.

“With China’s domestic production constraints and increasing demand from consumers for high quality, safe food products, the resulting import demand offers significant opportunities for US agricultural exporters,” Westman said in his testimony. “The US is in an excellent position to compete in the Chinese market if it can avoid unnecessary, unjustified barriers to agricultural trade.” 

Early in April, trade tensions between the United States and China were heightened as each nation prepared to impose tariffs on several key products imported from the other country. On April 2, China increased tariffs on 128 products, including pork, in response to the US imposing higher tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China.

Westman also testified about how China not only uses tariffs but sanitary and phytosanitary measures, to restrict market access for US agricultural products and listed a number of US meat and poultry products that are currently prohibited from being exported to the country, including prepared meat and certain pork products. He also described trade regulations such as laboratory protocols, maximum residue limit tolerance restrictions and re-inspection processes, among other policies that China could address or eliminate to bolster US meat imports.  

However, Westman also pointed to the Animal Products Working Group that led to food safety training and orientation meetings with the China Food and Drug Administration and to the creation of a proposed pilot project with China Agriculture University to implement livestock production technology training for students and mid-level managers.  

According to NAMI, China is the second largest exporter for US agricultural products, and in 2017, US exports of beef, pork and poultry products to China/Hong Kong exceeded $2.5 billion – a 13 percent increase compared to 2016.  China also imported more than $1 billion worth of US cattle hides, pig skins and semi-processed leather products in 2017.  

Westman’s entire written testimony can be foundhere.