CHINA has added beef to its growing list of US imports subjected to sharply high tariffs, in retaliation against imported steel and aluminium tariffs announced by US President Donald Trump last month.
The prospect of US beef exports being dragged into a trade war between the US and China following last month’s US market protection measures was first discussed in this article published on Beef Central, authored by independent industry analyst Simon Quilty.
On Tuesday, China levied a 25 percent tariff on a wide range of chilled and frozen US beef products, joining pork and soybeans and another 104 food and agricultural items impacted earlier.
The US Meat Export Federation yesterday issued a statement quoting president and CEO Dan Halstrom, saying that China was a promising market for US beef, and since the June 2017 market reopening to US beef, the US industry had made an exceptional effort to provide Chinese customers with high-quality beef at an affordable price.
“This is not an easy task, due to our 13-year absence from the market and China’s beef import requirements,” Mr Halstrom said.
Those Chinese market ‘requirements’ include no synthetic HGP, and no beta agonists – both widely used production tools in the US beef industry.
Over the past nine months, interest in US beef had steadily gained momentum in China, USMEF said, and its customer base had grown.
“But if an additional import tariff is imposed on US beef, these constructive business relationships, and opportunities for further growth, will be put at risk,” it warned.
USMEF said it was hopeful that the trade dispute could be resolved without China introducing additional obstacles for US beef.
In the second half of 2017, following the market reopening following a 13-year closure due to the US BSE episode in 2003, US beef exports to China totalled 3020 tonnes, valued at $31 million. In January 2018, exports reached the highest monthly volume to date at 819t, valued at $7.5 million.
In contrast, Australian exports to China in January reached almost 8000t.
No start date for imposition of China’s tariffs on US products has yet been announced – even as trade negotiators are expected to begin talks at some point.
China’s list of tariff exposed US beef items announced this week includes fresh and cold (chilled and frozen) carcase beef; chilled and frozen bone-in beef; and chilled and frozen boneless beef.
Director of international trade and market access with the US National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Kent Bacus,said, “Sadly, we are not surprised, as this is an inevitable outcome of any trade war. This is a battle between two governments, and the unfortunate casualties will be America’s cattlemen and women and our consumers in China.”