American Beef Again Competes for Slice of China Market

United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue joined with US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad on June 30 to slice a Nebraska prime rib in a Beijing ceremony, formally marking the return of US beef to the Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus. Perdue celebrated the reintroduction of American beef products to the PRC after shipments were halted at the end of 2003.

The return of American beef and beef products is a part of the US-China 100-Day Action Plan announced by the Trump Administration on May 11, with the first shipment of US beef arriving in China on June 19.

beef china 300US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (center) ceremonially cuts into a Nebraska prime rib in Beijing, marking the return of American beef to the Chinese market. Perdue is joined by Craig Uden (left), president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and Luan Richeng of COFCO, a Chinese state-owned importer.“Beef is a big deal in China and I'm convinced that when the Chinese people get a taste of US beef, they're going to want more of it. These products coming into China are safe, wholesome and very delicious. This is also a good harbinger of the kind of relationship that can be developed. We hope there are other things we can cooperate on and we're going to use US beef as the forerunner.”

President Donald J. Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, officials with the US Trade Representative, and Secretary Perdue announced the deal brokered with China to allow the return of American beef to China in May. The PRC has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016.

The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and last year ranked as the fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion. 

Also on June 30, Perdue held a series of meetings with PRC government officials, including Vice Premier Wang Yang and Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu, to discuss expanding trade between the United States and China.

On the same day, coincidentally, the US announced sanctions on a Chinese company and a PRC bank over illicit dealings with North Korea involving money laundering. Additionally, Washington unveiled a $1.4 billion weapons deal with Taiwan, which the Beijing government regards as a renegade province of the Peoples’ Republic of China. It remains to be seen if these actions will affect the appetite for US beef among PRC consumers, who are prone to boycotting imported products for political reasons.