China food market Getty Images/Feng Li

Meat Institute testifies at U.S.-China economic commission hearing

Westman underscores challenges and opportunities for U.S. meat industry and trade with China.

North American Meat Institute Senior Vice President of International Affairs Bill Westman today testified at a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing focused on China’s agricultural policies. Westman discussed opportunities and constraints affecting the U.S. meat and poultry industry, the activities and programs the Meat Institute supports in China and the Institute’s work with its Chinese partners to benefit from market opportunities and concurrently enhance food safety, food security and sustainability.

“With China’s domestic production constraints and increasing demand from consumers for high quality, safe food products, the resulting import demand offers significant opportunities for U.S. agricultural exporters,” Westman says in his testimony. “The U.S. is in an excellent position to compete in the Chinse market if it can avoid unnecessary, unjustified barriers to agricultural trade.”

Westman, in his testimony, details the means China uses, including high tariffs and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, to restrict market access for U.S. agricultural products and listed a number of U.S. meat and poultry products that are currently prohibited from being exported to the country, including prepared meat and certain pork products. In addition, Westman identified several trade barriers and regulations — laboratory protocols, maximum residue limit tolerance restrictions and re-inspection processes, among other policies — that China could address or eliminate to bolster U.S. meat imports.

Westman’s testimony also underscores the Meat Institute’s current work in China through its involvement in the U.S.-China Agriculture and Food Partnership. The Meat Institute’s engagement in AFP’s Animal and Animal Products Working Group has successfully led to food safety training and orientation meetings with the China Food and Drug Administration and to the creation of a proposed pilot project with China Agriculture University to design and implement livestock production technology training for students and mid-level managers.

Moreover, Westman explains the Working Group, in coordination with the China Meat Association, has convened an “Executive Roundtable” meeting of top-level meat and poultry company executives to exchange views, discuss meat and food production methods and focus on food safety throughout the production and distribution chain.

China is the second largest export destination for U.S. agricultural products, and in 2017, U.S. exports of beef, pork and poultry products to China/Hong Kong exceeded $2.5 billion — a 13% increase compared to 2016. China is also an essential market for U.S. meat byproducts, having imported more than $1 billion worth of U.S. cattle hides, pig skins and semi-processed leather products in 2017.

A copy of Westman’s written testimony is available here. His oral testimony can be accessed here.

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