NCBA Urges Obama to Support Open Markets

US - The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) joined with a coalition of more than 50 national agriculture and business groups to urge President Obama to support open markets and level playing fields for international trade by upholding U.S. obligations under World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.
calendar icon 8 May 2009
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In a May 1st letter, the coalition expressed opposition to a provision (Section 727) in the 2009 Appropriations Act that effectively bans imports of some Chinese chicken products, without allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to conduct a necessary and appropriate risk assessment on whether these imports pose any risk to American consumers. Because the provision specifically targets imports from only one country, it conflicts with the U.S. obligation to treat trading partners equally, and has prompted China to request a WTO consultation.

“Trade supports millions of U.S. jobs,” said Jill Davidsaver, NCBA manager legislative affairs. “This trade-distorting appropriations language sets a bad example for our international trading partners; if the U.S. doesn’t hold itself accountable to the highest standards of fair and science-based trade, how can we expect other countries to do the same?”

China is the only market completely closed to U.S. beef exports, and represents one of the largest potential growth markets for U.S. beef—worth in excess of $100 billion. The chicken dispute is likely to impede ongoing efforts to open up China to U.S. beef.

With 1.3 billion consumers, rising income levels, and rapid urbanization, growth in China's per capita beef consumption outpaced all major beef-consuming countries during the last decade (USITC Publication 4033, September 2008). In addition, China demonstrates a niche demand for certain beef cuts, such as offal, that are underutilized in the U.S. and can be marketed in China as premium products.

China officially banned U.S. beef and variety cuts after the discovery of a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. cattle herd in December 2003. Prior to the ban, the U.S. was China's leading foreign beef supplier by value and China was the 10th largest U.S. beef export market.

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