China may resume US beef imports in 2016
China halted imports of US beef in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was found in Washington state.
Ten months later, a U.S. trade official said resumption of beef trade with China "may be imminent." In 2006, the ban was lifted on some boneless beef products.
Now, an industry group is predicting that China, the world's biggest importer of U.S. agricultural goods, will open its market fully by the middle of this year.
The last issue to resolve is the procedure to track U.S. cattle, and Chinese representatives must audit the system, Philip Seng, chief executive officer of the Denver-based U.S. Meat Export Federation, said Thursday in an interview at an industry conference in San Diego. "There's a sense of urgency to getting this done," Seng said.
China's beef imports from 2010 to mid-2015 increased more than 10-fold as consumption climbed, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Countries such as Australia are boosting export sales.