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American beef faces new competition in China

By Jessica Domel

The People’s Republic of China is re-opening its doors to beef imports from other countries, which could mean additional competition for American beef.

After more than 15 years, China announced June 24 it is lifting the ban on imports of beef from France and the United Kingdom.

France and China have negotiated an export protocol and France will be able to export beef once their plants are officially registered, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

France will be able to export food grade beef fat and frozen and chilled boneless beef, whole or cut, from cattle less than 30 months old.

The exports could begin within the next few months.

The United Kingdom is still negotiating its export protocol with Chinese officials.

China banned beef from both countries after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed.

The ban on beef from the UK has been in place for 20 years while the ban on French beef has been in place for 17.

China previously banned imports of beef from the U.S., citing BSE concerns, but that ban was lifted after 13 years in June 2017.

Sixteen countries are now eligible to export beef and beef products to China.

The re-opening of the markets could mean more competition for U.S. beef now that China is levying tariffs up to 50 percent on select cuts of beef.

The per pound value of U.S. beef exported to China is among the highest in the world, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

From January through May, exports to China increased 20 percent in volume to a little more than 57,000 metric tons and 47 percent in value to $442.2 million.

May exports to China were the highest at 834 metric tons.

On Friday, July 6, China increased its tariff on U.S. beef after the United States began implementing a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion in Chinese exports.

“The higher tariff will make it difficult for end-users to profitably utilize U.S. beef, especially with U.S. beef already priced at a premium compared to imports from other suppliers and with Australian beef subject to a duty of just 7.2 percent through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement,” USMEF reported.

Beef exports to other countries remain high. According to USMEF, a new record was set in May with 117,871 metric tons of beef valued at $722.1 million.

That surpasses the previous monthly high from March by four percent. It’s 27 percent higher than this time last year.

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