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Statement by U.S. Trade Representative on China’s Announcement to Resume U.S. Beef Trade

Washington, D.C. - USTR recognizes today’s announcement from China's Ministry of Agriculture that it has lifted the ban on U.S. beef following a recently concluded review of the U.S. supply system. While this announcement is a critical first step to restoring market access for U.S. beef and beef products, China and the United States must complete other steps before U.S. beef can be exported to China.

USTR and USDA look forward to China’s final audit report on beef, and subsequent discussions between the United States and China on the specific conditions that will allow trade to resume.  True access to China's beef market -consistent with science-based, international standards for trade- remains a top priority for the United States. The United States produces the highest-quality beef in the world, and China's 1.3 billion consumers are an important market for U.S. producers. The Obama Administration, USTR and USDA will continue to press trading partners to eliminate unfair barriers to trade that hamper American farmers and ranchers.

Background on the current U.S. Beef Market

Following the discovery of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in December 2003, U.S. beef and beef product exports fell. Since 2003, USTR and USDA have led a multi-agency, full-court press, dedicating significant resources to restore foreign market access for U.S. beef. As a result, U.S. beef shipments had regained pre-BSE volumes by 2011 and even reached record values by 2014. Another central element of the U.S. strategy to maintain and expand foreign market access is insistence on policies that are based on the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Since January 2015, the United States has gained additional market access for U.S. beef in 16 countries, including: Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Iraq, Lebanon, Macau, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia,  South Africa, Ukraine, Vietnam and Brazil.

The past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports, with international sales of U.S. farm and food products surpassing $1 trillion between fiscal years 2009 and the present.

Snapshot of the Beef Export Market in 2003

In FY 2003, U.S. beef exports (excluding beef products) totaled $3.0 billion (0.9 million tons) to 112 countries. As a result of the December 2003 BSE case, U.S. beef exports fell to $1.1 billion (0.3 million tons) in FY 2004.

Snapshot of the Current Market

In spite of some remaining restrictions, U.S. beef exports have recovered to pre-2003 levels. In FY 2015, U.S. beef exports totaled $5.8 billion (0.8 million tons) to 112 countries.