China allows first import of U.S. beef in 14 years

The Chinese government had banned U.S. beef in 2003 over concern about mad cow disease.

Joyce Clark | Jun 26, 2017

China let in a shipment of U.S. beef through its borders Friday, following the formal resolution earlier this week of a longstanding trade dispute with the United States. China had not accepted U.S. beef imports for the past 14 years.

Under a new agreement that Chinese and U.S. officials ratified Tuesday, China will accept beef from cows that can be traced back to their birth farms and that were slaughtered in the United States. They must either have been born, raised, and killed on U.S. farms, or born and raised in Canada or Mexico and then transferred live to farms in the United States.

The Chinese government had banned U.S. beef in 2003 over concern about mad cow disease.

Friday's import was a product of Tyson Foods Inc. and was brought in by Cofco Meat Holdings Ltd. Cofco plans to sell it on Womai.com, an e-commerce platform.

The deal opens up an enormous new market for the U.S. beef industry. China's beef imports market totals $2.6 billion in sales a year.

Chinese consumers currently rely on most of their beef from suppliers in Brazil and Australia. Brazil is home to the world's largest beef supplier, JBS SA, and it may continue to dominate the market. But U.S. beef may make inroads on Australian beef as the lower price of grain in the United States could result in U.S. beef selling at lower prices.

"We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China," Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said in an emailed statement.

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