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Meat exports thrive in first year of U.S.-China Phase One

TAGS: Marketing
wissanu01/iStock/Thinkstock. bring imports exports port container ship FDS
U.S. beef and pork export value rose from just below $1.4 billion in 2019 to $2.5 billion last year.

One year has passed since the red meat trade provisions of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement entered into force, expanding access for U.S. beef and pork in the world's largest red meat import market.

Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, explains that while U.S. pork exports to China would have been large in 2020 with or without Phase One, the agreement helped calm trade tensions between the two countries and simplified the process for U.S. plants seeking approval for export to China. This, he said, helped the U.S. pork industry gain broader and more consistent access to China at a time when China faces a significant pork shortage due to African swine fever. 

“The U.S. really enjoyed a banner first year of trade with China under Phase One, with the value of combined U.S. beef and pork exports rising from just below $1.4 billion in 2019 to $2.5 billion last year,” Haggard relayed.

On the beef side, Haggard noted that Phase One greatly improved the prospects for U.S. exports by bringing China's beef import requirements more in line with international standards, especially in the area of synthetic hormone use. With beef from a far greater percentage of U.S. cattle now eligible, export volumes are increasing rapidly. The U.S. has been exporting somewhere around 2,000 tons a week to China, and if this pace continues, Haggard expects China to be a top five market for U.S. beef in 2021.

In 2020, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to China were record-large at nearly 1 million metric tons, valued at $2.28 billion. U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports to China were just under 43,000 metric tons, also a new record and up more than 300% from 2019. Beef export value was $310.2 million, a year-over-year increase of 260%. 

“So, overall Phase One has been beneficial to U.S. beef and pork producers no doubt about it,” Haggard said. “Yes, there were some other drivers involved that led to a dramatic uptick in our red meat trade with China over the past year, but certainly that new framework has provided more favorable access conditions for that trade to happen.

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