U.S. trade officials are meeting this week with counterparts in China to finalize trade protocols regarding the export of U.S. beef to China. The move follows last month’s announcement that the U.S. and China reached an agreement to restart U.S. beef exports to China, sidelined since 2003.
However, as the Financial Times reported last week, China already has access to some prime U.S. beef cuts. That's because there is a flourishing market in secondary imports from Hong Kong, where China's ban on U.S. beef did not apply. Cuts destined for China could make up half of U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong, according to some experts.
Still, beef demand is growing in China, along with demand for higher-quality beef cuts. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says the plan gives U.S. beef access to more than one billion consumers.
Roberts told the U.S. Meat Export Federation recently that trade “wins” like the agreement with China is a good start to helping farmers and ranchers when it comes to trade negotiations.
U.S. agriculture and beef groups have estimated that exports to China, once established, could be worth an estimated $2.6 billion for the U.S. livestock industry.