CHINA is in talks with the United States to allow beef imports from US cattle up to 30 months of age, a spokesman for the country’s top food safety watchdog told the China Daily news agency on Friday.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine last week held talks with the US Department of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative to resume the imports of beef, from cattle up to 30 months old.
The talks were held during the 2013 US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in late November, Chen Xitong, spokesman for the quarantine and food safety agency said during a media conference.
Talks were still ongoing over some ‘technological issues’, Mr Chen told China Daily.
Chinese authorities initially banned all US beef imports when BSE was discovered in the United States in 2003.
In 2006, China lifted the ban on US beef imports from cattle up to 30 months of age old and five kinds of by-products. However, US beef imports to China never recommenced, because US authorities insisted that China lift the ban on all beef imports and products, refusing to issue sanitary certificates for beef from cattle up to 30 months old, according to the food safety watchdog.
While there has been no direct ‘front door’ beef trade between the US and China since 2003, large volumes of US beef have been arriving via the ‘grey channel’, exported to China’s neighbours like Vietnam, before being slipped over the border free of taxes and duties.
The clamp-down by Chinese authorities on the ‘grey trade’ last year was one of the reasons why Australia’s beef exports to China in 2013 have exploded, likely to reach about 140,000 tonnes in calendar 2013, up from 11,000t a year earlier.
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