April 10, 2018
Chinese retaliatory tariff on US beef 'unsettles' industry
China's proposed retaliatory tariffs of 25% on selected US goods famously cited pork as among the agri-food products, but in fact beef is included in the list, to the dismay of the US cattle industry.
The blow to the industry comes after China reopened its market to US beef exports less than a year ago in June 2017 after a 13-year ban over mad cow disease issues. Current US beef exports to China are subject to a 12% duty.
"It is unsettling to see American-produced beef listed as a target for retaliation", said Kent Bacus, director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, in a statement.
He admitted, though, that "this is an inevitable outcome of any trade war".
The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) said that over the past nine months since the reopening of the Chinese market, "interest in US beef has steadily gained momentum in China and our customer base has grown".
It said that US beef exports to China in the second half of 2017, following the market reopening, totalled 3,020 tonnes valued at $31 million. In January 2018, exports reached the highest monthly volume to date at 819 tonnes, valued at $7.5 million.
"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", USMEF said.
Bacus said the Trump administration has until the end of May to resolve the issue. "We believe in trade enforcement, but endless retaliation is not a good path forward for either side", he said. —Rick Alberto