DENVER — Although U.S. trade officials continue to resolve the latest trade impasse with China, a U.S. Meat Export Federation representative said he sees no signs of immediate relief. He also discussed the impact of China’s pork ban on the U.S. casings industry, which relies heavily on China for export of pork intestines.

Kevin Smith, U.S.M.E.F. director of export services, was part of a U.S.M.E.F. delegation that recently returned from Asia. One of the major stops on the group’s itinerary was China, which has been closed to U.S. pork exports for about the past four months due to H1N1 influenza.

"There was some positive discussion between the two governments, as well as some meetings we had ourselves," he said. "So, there are some efforts underway, but there are still some challenges ahead of us. The perspective of the government in China is very hard-line at the moment. Any opportunities we had to ask questions about expanding access or that were technical in nature about H1N1 were met with nothing positive. They showed absolutely no flexibility; it seemed like no willingness to really make anything work to try to move any product through the marketplace."

Mr. Smith said China’s ban is particularly hard on certain sectors of the industry, such as those that process and export casings for sausage manufacturing.

"The market is absolutely key for that specific product," Mr. Smith said. "And it’s a unique scenario for that type of production. Basically, it’s made out of pork small intestines. The product is usually salted, packed and exported to China. The industry there in China is where the small intestines are manufactured into casings. From that point on, those companies basically export that product for use in manufacturing sausages and whatnot all around the world, including back to the U.S.

"It’s a very unique situation," he added. "There is a relationship between the companies in China and companies here in the U.S. and without that outlet for that product, there’s really very limited options for U.S. companies. The only other option is to go into rendering or utilize domestic trade — but at a much lower value."