China lifts ban on US beef imports
China on Thursday said it was conditionally lifting its import ban on some shipments of US beef, ending a 13-year embargo imposed after the discovery of a case of “mad cow’’ disease in Washington state.
The announcement was made in Ottawa by Premier Li Keqiang, who also said that China was ready to lift restrictions on bone-in Canadian beef.
Prior to going to Canada to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, Li said on Tuesday in a speech in New York that China would “soon” allow imports of US boneless beef and beef on the bone.
The lifting of the US ban applies to imports of beef from cattle under 30 months old, according to a statement posted on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website.
The move remains subject to completion of quarantine requirements, which will be issued later, the ministry said, without providing further details.
“I welcome the announcement from China’s Ministry of Agriculture that it has lifted its ban on US beef following a recently concluded review of the US supply system,” US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement on Thursday.
Vilsack said the US is looking forward to prompt discussions with Chinese authorities on the conditions to allow trade to resume.
“This is potentially very significant for the US market. China’s beef imports have risen sharply the past four years and it is now the second-largest beef importing country. US access to this market offers considerable new market potential for US beef exports,” Derrell Peel of the department of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University said.
Brazil has overtaken Australia as China’s top beef supplier.
In the first six months of 2016, China imported 295,721 metric tons of beef, jumping 60.8 percent year-on-year. The USDA said that in recent years overall Chinese beef imports have grown significantly, hitting a record $2.3 billion in 2015, fueled by a growing middle class.
The agency has been in talks with Beijing ever since the ban to reopen the market, said Fred Gale, China specialist with the USDA.
“Opening the China market will create more demand for US beef,” Gale said. “That not only gives Chinese consumers more choices, but also gives US farmers and ranchers more market outlets for their products. This is especially important now because the farm economy is in a period of generally depressed prices.”
Opening the China market will create more demand for US beef.” Fred Gale, USDA China specialist