China eyes US poultry, pork imports in trade talks: report

April 17, 2019 09:25
China is expected to agree to more pork imports from the United States as part of a trade deal. Photo: Bloomberg

China is likely to lift a ban on US poultry as part of a trade deal with Washington and may buy more pork to meet a growing supply deficit, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the negotiations.

Beijing, however, is not willing to allow a prohibited growth drug used in roughly half the US hog herd, the report said.

China's negotiators have resisted lifting the ractopamine restriction even though Beijing may boost imports of US pork as its own hog herd is devastated by disease, sources were quoted as saying.

Washington is pushing for greater market access for agricultural products by seeking to reduce tariffs, lift bans and overhaul regulatory processes.

As part of the negotiations, it is said to have asked Beijing to lift its bans on the drug ractopamine, which some US pork producers use to boost hog growth, and on US poultry.

Beijing has banned all US poultry and eggs since January 2015 due to an avian influenza outbreak. That caused imports to tank.

The US shipped US$390 million worth of poultry and products to China in 2014, but shipments fell drastically in the following year to US$74 million.

China lifted a similar restriction on poultry from France last month, and last year dropped duties on US white-feathered broiler chickens.

A total lifting of the ban would reopen the gates for US poultry to compete in the world’s largest, and best-paying, market for products like chicken feet, Reuters noted.

While it looks increasingly likely China may lift its ban on US poultry, Beijing is seeking a “two-way street” and would want to be able to export some poultry products to the US as well, sources told Reuters.

Meanwhile, China is unlikely to drop its ban on ractopamine.

Chinese authorities blocked the use of ractopamine in livestock in 2002. They say it can cause health problems in people and is too similar to clenbuterol, an illegal additive in pig feed used to keep meat lean.

The European Union also prohibits ractopamine, although the US and other countries say it is safe.

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