China, U.S. Beef Relations Improving, Focus Turns To Export Protocols

April 17, 2017 02:22 PM

It’s been 13 years since China closed its doors to U.S. beef, and that may change soon if the meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping is any indication of a relationship change.

Both Chinese and U.S. officials described a summit between the two presidents as productive.

“China is going to allow import so U.S. beef for the first time in 13 years,” said Joe Vaclavik, president and founder of Standard Grain. “We don’t know exactly what the timing is going to be, but we’re pretty sure that this is a headline to be taken positively.

This move would help add a bounce to cattle markets, but in reality those exports haven’t left the farm.

“The Chinese did announce several months ago they would allow U.S. beef, but we’ve seen none trade at this point,” said Dr. Scott Brown, economist with the University of Missouri. “We need some plants certified to be able to ship product to China before we can move any U.S. product at this point.”

The cattle industry says they are hard at work to develop a solution.

“The discussion is slow, but we’re making progress,” said Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “We did get an official announcement from the Chinese government that they lifted the ban, but we have to focus on export protocols.”

Some say the Chinese could put stipulations on U.S. beef, similar to what’s been seen in hogs. China only imports ractopamine-free pork from the U.S., but experts say it’s too early to know whether beef will see those rules or not.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion people, China holds high potential for U.S. beef. Early estimates say reopening the Chinese beef market could add $2.5 billion in value.

“They could open it up and start to buy from us, but it’s not going to have a quick impact on price,” said DuWayne Bosse of Bolt Marketing. “It’s more of a long-term thing. We need to develop that appetite.”

According to NCBA, both sides agreed to take the next 100 days to layout a trade plan and a path forward. Agriculture and beef hopes to be on the table.

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