U.S. China beef for chicken deal only half-done

Global Business

Under the U.S.-China 100-day action plan released this spring, Beijing agreed to accept U.S. beef imports in exchange for Washington accepting cooked chicken imports from China.

But while U.S. beef has already arrived in China, Chinese-raised-and-cooked chicken has not.

In June, the U.S. received its first shipment of cooked chicken from China, Jim Sumner of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council told CGTN. But the birds were raised in Chile, then shipped to China for cooking and processing, and then sent on to the U.S. for sale.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

“It’s definitely inefficient, and it’s largely a symbolic gesture,” said Brian Ronholm, a former U.S. Agriculture official who now works at law firm Arent Fox as Senior Director of Regulatory Policy.

Ronholm used to oversee food inspections the Agriculture Department and said the deal brings Beijing one step closer to exporting Chinese chicken not just to Americans, but beyond.

“With the food scandals of the last decade or so for them, the ultimate goal is re-establishing credibility in the world market when it comes to food safety,” Ronholm said. “And achieving equivalency to the status with the U.S. helps them in that process.”

Already, the U.S. has declared that four Chinese plants have met safety standards equivalent to American facilities. And it’s proposed a rule that would also allow them to export chickens raised and slaughtered in China to the U.S.

Ultimately, the White House will decide when that rule is approved.

The next goal will be coaxing Bejiing to open its market up to U.S. poultry producers.

Since 2015, China has blocked U.S. chicken products from crossing its borders following an outbreak of bird flu in Minnesota.

“We’ve been working trying to get Chinese chicken into the U.S. for many years because we think it’s a basic principle that we hold to and that has to do with free and open trade,” said Sumner. “We want access to the China market so we think it’s only fair that they should have access to our market.”

Sumner said when it does, U.S. poultry producers are hoping Beijing will reciprocate – and Chinese restaurants will once again welcome American chicken feet, to their menus. Chicken paws sales, he said, are nothing to squawk at.

“Jumbo paws to China bring $.90 to a dollar a pound. If you have the option of selling it for five cents or exporting it for over a dollar it’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Dan Ikenson on 100 day plan between China and US

Dan Ikenson, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the CATO Institute joined CGTN to talk more about the 100-day action plan President’s Xi and Trump agreed to at their Mar-a-Lago meeting in April.

Bill Westman on the latest US-China trade deal

For more on the U.S. and China’s five billion dollar trade deal, CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Bill Westman. He’s the senior vice president of international affairs at the north american meat institute, a trade group for beef producers.