“Huge amounts” of US beef are quietly entering mainland China via Hong Kong, Reuters reported, citing deputy US Trade Representative Robert Holleyman.
The mainland bans imports of US beef because of previous cases of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
US trade officials have been trying in vain to get Beijing to lift the ban.
How much US beef is being transshipped through Hong Kong into the mainland is not known, trade officials said.
But the volume that comes into the city from the United States alone is more than all the beef consumed in Hong Kong, they said.
The US exported more than 154,500 tonnes of beef and beef products to Hong Kong last year, up nearly 19 percent over the previous year, US figures show.
Industry sources estimated last year that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beef from countries such as Brazil and India are smuggled into mainland China through Hong Kong and Vietnam.
China’s hunger for beef has grown as the expanding middle class demands more high-protein food.
Last month, Chinese customs officials arrested 33 people suspected of smuggling 6,000 tonnes of beef, worth about US$32.6 million, from the United States, China Daily reported.
– Contact us at [email protected]