Chinese trade officials gave U.S. trade negotiators verbal assurance yesterday they would not enforce the June 1 deadline for dairy export certifications, which would have stopped U.S. dairy exports from entering Chinese ports.
"So long as an exporter has a health certificated signed by May 31 or earlier, it will be accepted regardless of when it arrives in a Chinese port,” says Shawna Morris, a trade policy specialist with the U.S. Dairy Export Council. "Yesterday, the Chinese said that although they were not formerly changing the June 1 deadline, they don't plan to enforce it at this time.
"So there is still a certain amount of uncertainty regarding the issue, and we would have preferred to have something in writing,” says Morris. "But it does forestall the implementation of a certificate shut off.”
The dispute over health issues has been on-going since 2007. Three years ago, however, USDA officials had argued that because U.S. dairy products are pasteurized, health issues regarding bovine TB and Brucellosis are not relevant. But the Chinese raised the issue again in April.
"The Chinese have accepted a broad range of language from other trading partners regarding these issues, and the U.S. dairy industry is encouraging USDA to look at those as possible options when negotiating with the Chinese,” says Morris.