Trade Deal Should Resume Beef Exports to China

May 12, 2017
China banned U.S. beef since 2003 mad cow disease; cooked Chinese poultry allowed as an import.

Fourteen years after mad cow disease, China promises to open its borders to U.S. beef. In exchange, cooked Chinese poultry may begin appearing in U.S. markets.

Those are parts of a U.S.-China trade agreement announced this week by the Trump administration. Adding in American natural gas exports, administration officials said the deal should be a significant boost to U.S. exports.

China imposed a ban on U.S. beef in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease. Although only one case was confirmed since – in 2005, and none since – the Chinese ban remained in effect despite the efforts of Presidents Bush and Obama.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the importation of cooked Chinese poultry could be done safely. "We do not intend to endanger anybody's health or safety in the U.S.," he was quoted in an Associated Press story. The news story hinted there were other agricultural goods involved in the trade agreement, although none was specified.

A big part of the deal allows U.S. companies to ship liquefied natural gas to China. With a recent surplus of the fuel, the Energy Department already has authorized the shipment of 19.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas exports to China and other interested countries, the Commerce Department said in the Associated Press report. Natural gas may help China clean up an increasingly dangerous and extensive air pollution problem. The downside is it could increase prices for American consumers.

The agreement also would streamline the evaluation of pending U.S. biotechnology product applications; pave the way for allowing American-owned suppliers of electronic payment services to begin the licensing processes in China; and facilitate the entrance of Chinese banks into the U.S. banking market, Associated Press reported.

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