China now taking Canadian bone-in beef

Taste-testing during a Canadian Beef Advantage Seminar in Shanghai in 2013. (Canada Beef via YouTube)

China’s premier has announced the country will accept bone-in Canadian beef from cattle under 30 months of age (UTMs) starting today, according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

The expanded access is expected to add another $10 million per year in exports to China in the short term, the CCA said, given that Canada’s beef cattle herd “remains contracted.”

China, which closed its ports to Canadian beef in 2003 after the discovery of Canada’s first domestic case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), committed in 2010 to restore market access for Canadian beef in stages, starting that year with boneless UTM beef.

CCA president Dan Darling on Thursday thanked Canadian government officials “for their work to achieve this important threshold in the staged access process we are engaged in with China,” he said.

Such news from China, along with recent expanded access to Mexico and Taiwan and the possibilities for future trade expansion through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, may be the impetus Canadian cattle producers need to expand their herds, he said.

“We can produce more beef with confidence if we know markets will be open to purchase it.”

On top of the near-term opportunities for new sales, the announcement also “clears the path for intensified negotiations on the remaining steps toward full and normal trade in beef products with China,” Canadian Meat Council executive director Jim Laws said in a separate release.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced the expanded access Thursday in Ottawa, where he’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Officials in China said earlier Thursday that similar restrictions on U.S. beef imports are also to be lifted.

Trudeau, at a joint press conference, said Canada and China have also agreed on a longer-term solution to an ongoing trade dispute over canola sales.

China, during Trudeau’s visit last month, agreed to postpone its plans to tighten specs for dockage in Canadian canola, a move Beijing had said was necessary to reduce the risk of blackleg spreading to Chinese rapeseed crops.

The Reuters news service on Thursday quoted Trudeau as saying the new solution is “predictable, science-based and stable” and will last through to 2020, but no other details were given.

Reuters also quoted the two leaders as saying they will launch exploratory talks on a free trade pact and a possible extradition treaty. — Network

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