U.S. Beef Exports to China-One Step Forward, One Step Back

U.S. Beef Exports to China-One Step Forward, One Step Back

Russell Nemetz
Russell Nemetz
USDA recently secured approval for an additional 20 U.S. facilities to be eligible to export beef to China.

"This positive development reflects USDA's continuous work to increase U.S. beef market access to China one year after U.S. beef exports to the country resumed," said North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter in a statement.

That's the good news. The bad news is, some Chinese customers are already canceling U.S. beef product orders as the trade dispute between the United States and China escalates.

Tallgrass Beef Company founder Bill Kurtis told Meatingplace a Chinese importer this week canceled two containers totaling 67,000 pounds of Tallgrass beef -- packed, frozen and headed to the port -- because of concerns about the tariff situation by the time the beef would arrive in China.

China responded last week to President Donald Trump's decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on about 1,100 product imports from China worth about $50 billion by declaring it would levy an additional 25 percent tariff on about $50 billion of U.S. imports, including agricultural products such as soy, corn, wheat, cotton, rice, sorghum, beef, pork, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts and vegetables. The move could push tariffs on imported U.S. beef to 50 percent once they go into effect on July 6.

Kurtis said the customer's concern was that even though these products would be already in transit, "they could still be nailed" by the tariff hike.

U.S. beef exports to China/Hong Kong have increased 23 percent in volume and 51 percent in value since last year, with good potential for further growth in 2018, according to the North American Meat Institute.

"Unfortunately, because of escalating trade friction with China, U.S. beef suppliers may not be able to reach their true export potential in the Chinese market," warned Carpenter. "To avoid the adverse consequences that come from such disagreements, the Meat Institute urges China and the U.S. to work diligently to resolve any differences and to do so as soon as possible."

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