China to Restart U.S. Beef Purchases


The following story is from Reuters:

China’s commitment to resume purchases of U.S. beef, after a seven-year suspension, drew praise from the U.S. meat industry on Wednesday, with one group estimating that country could buy up to $200 million worth of beef annually.

U.S. agriculture and trade officials on Wednesday said they expected a staged reopening of China’s market to U.S. beef. The market has been closed since late 2003, when the United States reported its first case of mad cow disease.

“China reaffirms that on the basis of science principles, and in compliance with the quarantine requirements of China, to resume the imports of American beef, both deboned and bone-in, under the age of 30 months,” Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said at the conclusion of two days of talks.

South Korea, an important export market for U.S. beef, already buys U.S. beef with the 30-month age limit.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said there would be technical talks soon with the goal of re-opening China’s market in early 2011.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation said it was “extremely pleased” and the American Meat Institute said the potential for beef exports to China “is significant”.

“We would project that market at about $200 million in annual beef business,” said USMEF spokesman Joe Schuele.

The USMEF works to develop overseas markets for U.S. beef and pork.

“We are very encouraged that China has committed to technical talks to address beef market access. Open trade between our nations is in our mutual best interest,” AMI President Patrick Boyle said in a statement.

While many countries banned U.S. beef after the 2003 mad cow case, they have since either lifted or partially lifted those bans. Schuele said China was the only Asian market that never really reopened after the 2003 mad cow case.

Before the 2003 mad cow case, the United States exported about 10 percent of its beef. Since then exports have slowly recovered and about 9 percent will be exported in 2010.

The concern is it is believed people can contract a similar fatal brain disease by eating infected beef parts of animals with the disease.

Since 2003 the United States has taken steps to ensure the beef supply is safe from the disease.

Source:  Reuters


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