Chinese Retaliatory Tariffs: What it Means for U.S. Beef


China has announced a list of agricultural products it plans to set tariffs on including soybeans, pork, and pulse crops.  Beef could be added to this list. U.S. beef gained access only one year ago after a 13 year hiatus due to the BSE outbreak. While the U.S. is new to this market, Greater China is the world’s largest beef importer taking in 31{665a3d7248b9690333c4195c142b942e2311c5bd36bcf4da0d19dbcb5cbdf347} of the beef export market.

Industry leaders are weighing in on whether these tariffs will hurt or help trade. Montana Farm Bureau Federation’s Director of National Affairs, Nicole Rolf, says beef producers were looking at the Chinese market with a lot of excitement but these tariffs are adding concerns. U.S. beef is already expensive in China and tariffs would limit the amount Chinese consumer’s purchase.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Director of International Trade and Market Access Kent Bacus is concerned U.S. beef could get shut out again. China already taxes U.S. beef by nearly 25{665a3d7248b9690333c4195c142b942e2311c5bd36bcf4da0d19dbcb5cbdf347} and the additional tariffs would increase the taxes to 50{665a3d7248b9690333c4195c142b942e2311c5bd36bcf4da0d19dbcb5cbdf347}. Bacus said that one ship carrying beef turned around this week as some Chinese businesses have cancelled orders worried the shipments won’t reach China before these tariffs take effect.

On the other hand, some organizations believe that US beef has been harmed by unfair trade due to lack of country of origin labeling. Bill Bullard, CEO of R-Calf USA, expressed his support for the President’s actions.  He hopes this move will increase domestic producers’ market share of the US market. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Kenny Graner thinks this action should bring China to the negotiating table. Graner says they are willing to take a short-term loss for long-term gains as long as a better deal is signed.

In November 2017, Montana Stockgrowers Association struck a deal with a Chinese retailer recently who wants to invest in and import Montana beef. MSGA First Vice President Fred Wacker says these tariff talks have slowed progress down but he still expects the deal to go through.

Tariff tensions continues to build as the President threatens to launch more tariffs, but there is still time for the U.S. and China to sit down and negotiate before the July 6th launch date of the Chinese tariffs. Until then, all producers can do is wait.

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