China May Approve US Beef, Following Chicken Deal

China may soon be open to U.S. beef imports, officials announced after a Dec. 20 meeting of the U.S.–China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.

The deal has been years in the making, and experts said it was part of a tradeoff to open the United States to Chinese chicken imports.

The move comes after the USDA approved China to process chickens for the U.S. market in August. Audits are also underway that may approve China to raise and slaughter chickens for sale in the United States.

The move also comes amid a resurgence of H5N1 avian flu in China. On Dec. 17, the spokesman of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center warned people traveling to mainland China to take health precautions. Many countries ban Chinese chicken due to avian flu, including Pakistan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Ukraine, Germany, and Japan.

U.S. and Chinese envoys agreed to “promote U.S. beef exports to China,” a Chinese deputy commerce minister, Wang Chao, said at a Dec. 20 press conference, The Associated Press reported.

Chao gave no details on how the two sides would promote U.S. beef, The Associated Press reported. A deputy at the agriculture ministry, Niu Dun, said they would also work on technical issues, but gave no estimation on when the market would open.

China banned U.S. beef imports in 2003, after a case of mad cow disease in Washington state. The move started a trade war with the United States, and Chinese leaders sought to pressure the United States to allow Chinese chicken imports in exchange for reopening the beef market.

“[Chinese] officials have tried in the past to make the exportation of poultry products to the United States a quid pro quo for reopening U.S. beef exports to [China],” states a 2010 report from the Congressional Research Service.

Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute, told Epoch Times that he shares a similar belief. He said in a previous telephone interview, “China shut down beef imports from the U.S. so the agriculture department has been trying to get that reopened. Part of the trade would be to let China send chickens here.”

The mad cow case in 2003 dealt a heavy blow to the U.S. beef industry. Several countries banned U.S. beef at the time, and the blow left the industry searching for a large market.

A 2009 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association letter, obtained by Food & Water Watch, states that “China represents one of the largest potential growth markets for U.S. beef—worth in excess of $100 million.”

“The chicken dispute is likely to impede ongoing efforts to open up China to U.S. beef,” it states.

Domestically, China has its own interests in U.S. food products. Food safety is a large concern in China where tainted foods and poisoned products are common. The Chinese-language DW News reports, “With the rise of China’s middle class and domestic food safety hazards, food imports from the United States will become an option in China.”

The Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, formed in 1983, aims to resolve trade issues. The recent meeting was led by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to Associated Press.

The Chinese delegation was led by Wang, Niu, and Deputy Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao.

  • Clark_Nova

    Why not? Tainted meat is nothing new to the Chinese people.

  • Gin1234

    That is all we need it more poisoned food from China, and the need to slaughter more animals to give to them. Not only am I afraid to eat from dishes from China for fear of them being loaded with some kind of toxic chemical, painted with toxic paint, or led, but I have seen enough of how they treat animals to know, I want nothing to do with any meat coming through them as well. As far as exchange with them of meet of any kind, we should be further developing bean, grains, and other less energy consuming food products to sustain us into the future. China should be concerned about this, especially due to their huge population, and energy and pollution caused by raising and eating animals.

    • takawalk

      A side thought, but doesn’t the ethanol requirements proven to be non beneficial for the reasons they were imposed, become relevant to any discussion about food? Even vegetarians would prefer to eat certain foods with corn content than gas. I know this is off topic, but it is something I rarely see discussed. Curious to your thoughts on it if you care to reply. Hope you have enjoyed the holidays.

      • Gin1234

        Hi takawalk, I hope your holidays have been good for you, as well. Good to see you. I have to admit that I am not well versed in the subject you bring up, and can’t really hold an intelligent conversation on it. I do know that trying to curb pollution from gas using ethanol, has opened up a whole new area of pollution to the environment and forcing farmers to grow corn in areas not good for that, or that used to be conservation areas. It’s ruining the environment in a whole other way. Corn also has to be grown to feed animals. We need more products that can go directly to feeding us, instead of to feed animals that are then used for food to feed us. It doesn’t make any sense, but meat eating is so ingrained in people as a required fact of life in this country that it would be hard to turn it around. I don’t think the ethanol added to gas has really done what they hoped it would do for pollution, and stopping global warming, either, and the government needs to do some serious reconsideration. I can’t see getting any change through this congress, or affecting any change as long as those representatives from the states like Iowa are pulling for it to continue in their states and lobbyists are pulling the strings. Do you?.