China opens market to U.S. beef
On June 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the following overview of rules for U.S. beef exports to China. Beef exports to the People’s Republic of China must meet specified requirements under the USDA Export Verification Program. These requirements apply to U.S. companies—slaughterers, fabricators and/or processors—that supply beef and beef products as listed on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website. The specified requirements for exports to China include: beef and beef products must be derived from cattle that were born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S., cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the U.S. or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter; cattle must be traceable to the U.S. birth farm using a unique identifier or, if imported, to the first place of residence or port of entry; beef and beef products must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age; chilled or frozen bone-in and deboned beef products are eligible for shipment; and carcasses, beef and beef products must be uniquely identified and controlled up until the time of shipment.
In December 2003, China banned U.S. beef after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. Before the ban, the U.S. was the largest exporter of beef into China. In 2003, China imported 57,000 tons of beef valued at $64.4 million, during which the U.S. was the largest exporter of beef to China. While U.S. exports have been banned, the Chinese beef market has seen substantial growth over the last 13 years as the market has grown to 600,000 tons valued at nearly $2.6 billion. Tariffs on beef exports to China range from 5-12 percent depending on the products. Additionally, most products are charged a 13 percent value added tax (VAT) or a 17-percent VAT on processed products.
U.S. rolls back Cuba rules
On June 16, President Donald Trump rolled back Obama era executive orders. The new policy of the United States toward Cuba is hoped to achieve four objectives: 1) enhance compliance with U.S. law, in particular the provisions that govern the embargo of Cuba and the ban on tourism; 2) hold the Cuban regime accountable for oppression and human rights abuses ignored under the Obama policy; 3) further the national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S. and those of the Cuban people; and 4) lay the groundwork for empowering the Cuban people to develop greater economic and political liberty.
According to the White House, the new policy "channels economic activities away from the Cuban military monopoly, including most travel-related transactions, while allowing American individuals and entities to develop economic ties to the private, small business sector in Cuba. The policy also enhances travel restrictions to better enforce the statutory ban on U.S. tourism to Cuba."
The policy reaffirms the U.S. statutory embargo of Cuba and opposes calls in the United Nations and other international forums for its termination. It clarifies that any further improvements in the U.S.-Cuba relationship will depend entirely on the Cuban government’s willingness to improve the lives of the Cuban people, including through promoting the rule of law, respecting human rights and taking concrete steps to foster political and economic freedoms.
Some policies will remain intact. For example, U.S. and Cuban embassies will remain open, Americans will continue to be allowed to bring back cigars and rum from Cuba, and Cuban-Americans will be able to continue to visit their family in Cuba and send them remittances.
Senators want NAFTA poultry focus
A group of senators is pushing for poultry issues to be addressed via the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 2.09 talks.
“We write to urge strong consideration for American poultry farmers, processors and exporters in the negotiation process, both in eliminating trade barriers imposed by Canada against American poultry and in ensuring that our poultry trade with Mexico remains robust,” the lawmakers said.
While NAFTA was to have resulted in a goal of eliminating tariffs in goods traded between the three countries, the lawmakers said, “Unfortunately, in practice, this goal has proven difficult to achieve. This has been particularly true for American poultry, which continues to face trade barriers in North America more than 20 years after NAFTA’s enactment.”
Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is downplaying the potential for the NAFTA 2.0 talks to be wrapped up yet this year.
Tyson improving animal welfare
In yet another sign than consumers’ concerns about animal welfare are impacting the industry, Tyson Foods Inc. announced it will launch a new animal well-being initiative as well as a pilot project to test using gas rather than electricity to stun chickens before they are killed as a possibly more humane solution. The company also announced a new video monitoring system that will track how live chickens are being handled. Tyson is also deploying animal well-being specialists across all of its beef, pork and poultry operations.