WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the first phase of a trade deal between the two countries on Jan. 15.

US trade officials said China will import at least $40 billion worth of US farm goods including pork and beef.

“For the US pork and beef industries to expand their business in China, the world’s largest and fastest-growing destination for imported red meat, it is critically important that China follows international standards for pork and beef trade,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “The Phase One trade agreement lays important groundwork toward this goal, and USMEF thanks the Trump administration for addressing the barriers that have hampered US pork and beef exports to China for many years.”

Several industry officials attended the signing ceremony at the White House including National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring, board member Craig Anderson and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Jennifer Houston.

NPPC and Herring released a statement following the event showing why its necessary for the pork industry to enter China aggressively at this time.

“China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork. However, the country’s hog supply has been ravaged by African swine fever — a disease affecting only pigs with no human health or food safety risks — resulting in a tremendous shortage of pork and mounting food price inflation,” Herring said in the statement. “The US is typically the largest pork exporting nation in the world and generally the lowest-cost producer in the world. We are ideally positioned to address this unprecedented sales opportunity for pork in China.”

The trade association also called on China to eliminate all remaining tariffs on US pork for at least 5 years. NPPC said US pork still faces a cumulative tariff of 68 percent while other competing nations are only assessed 8 percent.

NCBA echoed many of the same sentiments regarding the Phase One trade deal. The group says the deal will help open the Chinese market to more American beef in the future.

Before the trade dispute between the two countries, China allowed US-produced beef back into the country in June 2017. However, NCBA says there are still many “non-science-based, non-tariff trade barriers in place.” Other examples NCBA points to are the ban on production technologies, the extensive traceability requirements, and the 30-month BSE restriction which it hopes will be resolved soon.

Finally, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) expressed its admiration for the first phase of the deal citing potential eliminations of non-tariff barriers to trade with China as crucial to the export industry.

“We will continue to work with the Trump Administration to negotiate greater access to Chinese markets,” said North American Meat Institute (NAMI) CEO Julie Anna Potts in a statement. “It remains vital to address retaliatory tariff issues, which have made it difficult to export to China.”