China Lifts Ban on US Poultry

GLOBAL - China says it will lift a ban on poultry exports from six US states.
calendar icon 17 September 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

The announcements came on 16 September at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade hosted by the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace to honour ex-President Nixon's role in opening China to the world three decades ago, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Since that time, two-way trade between the two nations has grown from $4 billion to $387 billion and China is now the United States' second-largest trade partner, said US Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez.

"You can see the real outcome of all the work and all the engagement of the US team and the Chinese team," he said. "And as important as this meeting is, it's just the first step in what is probably the world's most important relationship."

Also participating in the day-long session were US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

The meeting comes at a turbulent time for the United States, as it struggles with a weakening economy and the second-largest Chinese trade deficit on record — $24.9 billion in July. On 15 September, China also appealed a ruling against it by the World Trade Organization in China's dispute with the United States, the European Union and Canada over car parts.

The WTO ruled earlier that China was breaking trade rules by taxing imports of auto parts at the same rate as foreign-made finished cars.

But those tensions were forgotten on 16 September as Qishan announced the end of the poultry export ban for Connecticut, New York, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Nebraska, effective immediately. The ban still applies to Arkansas and Virginia.

The restrictions were enacted after low-pathogenic bird flu (avian influenza; LPAI) was found in the states in recent years. LPAI poses no threat to human health, unlike its more virulent cousin.

The US exported more than $600 million in poultry products to China last year.

Both nations also agreed on a streamlined process for exporting US medical equipment in China, which Secretary Gutierrez called the most significant achievement of the talks. The US exported about $859 million in medical devices to China in 2007 — and the reduction in red tape promises to cut approval time for those devices in half.

China also agreed to update its drug reimbursement lists so US companies can sell more advanced medications to Chinese hospitals and consumers.

For its part, the US agreed to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese goods only when necessary and will work to facilitate the process for Chinese who apply for US visas, Vice-Premier Wang said.

"Over the past three decades, China has scored great achievements in our economic and social development," he said. "With China's reform and opening up, there has also been remarkable progress in China-US business ties. We are each others' important business and trading partners."

Mr Wang and other Chinese officials did not take questions after reading from prepared statements.

Mr Gutierrez, however, said concerns about the US economy lent an urgency to the talks and may have helped push through some of the agreements. He said that despite the United States' trade deficit with China, overall exports were a bright spot in the US economic outlook.

"In the second quarter, if it were not for exports, we would have had a very difficult quarter," he said, noting that China has a $65 billion export market. "Exports today are a larger part of our economy than at any other part of recorded history."

The San Francisco Chronicle report continues that one area that eluded the two nations, however, was a final agreement on exports of US beef to China. China agreed to exports of US beef from cows under the age of 30 months, but the US has insisted that China accept all beef from cows of all ages as expected under international standards.

That issue will be discussed further in future meetings between US and Chinese officials, Mr Gutierrez said.

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