Despite the widespread uncertainty due to the Coronavirus, China is continuing to implement the commitments made in the phase one trade agreement with the U.S. Chins has now drawn up food safety standards on residue limits of growth hormones in beef, a move seen as a further step towards opening up its market to American imports of U.S. beef.

China has previously had zero tolerance for any residues of growth hormone. That rule greatly limited the amount of U.S. beef that was eligible for export to China.

In the trade deal with the U.S. signed January 15th, China agreed to set residue limits for three hormones used in beef, in addition to other changes to make more U.S. beef eligible for export to China. China last month conditionally lifted a ban on beef and beef products from U.S. animals more than 30 months old, another condition agreed to under the trade deal.

This is another indication that China is trying to live up to the deal, even though they’ve seen substantial supply chain and demand disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. China is the number 1 importer of protein in the world and is still dealing with the fallout from African Swine Fever (ASF). Analysts estimate that ASF has killed nearly half of China’s hog herd.

China has been importing more beef to make up for the lack of pork on their domestic market. In the last year, Chinese beef imports increased almost 60%. However, the U.S. has just a small toehold in China’s beef market after regaining access 3 years ago. In January, the U.S. exported $6.5 million dollars’ worth of beef to China, a small amount but 4 percent higher than the year before.

The new hormone residue standards will help to boost those export numbers, but it will take time to substantially grow U.S. beef sales in China. The residue limits are in line with internationally recognized foods safety standards and will also apply to other beef exporting countries.

 

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DTN/U.S. Meat Export Federation/Northern Ag Network

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