China has loosened its restrictions on imports of Canadian beef, coinciding with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Ottawa this week.
The premier announced Wednesday that China will begin accepting bone-in beef from Canadian cattle under 30 months of age — effective immediately — for the first time since BSE was found in Canada in 2003.
“On behalf of Canada’s 68,500 beef farms and feedlots, I want to thank Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Trudeau for their work to achieve this important threshold in the staged access process we are engaged in with China,” said Dan Darling, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, in a statement on Thursday.
Keqiang’s predecessor, on a visit to Canada in 2010, said his country would re-open to Canadian beef in stages. The first phase opened the border to boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age. In 2014, China said it would consider importing bone-in products as well.
Canadian beef exports to China have risen exponentially since 2012, from $4.7 million four years ago to $256 million in 2015. Through the first six months of 2016, however, they’re in line with the pace from 2014, when just over $40 million of Canadian beef was shipped to China.
“Canada’s beef and veal industry appreciates the hard work and dedication of the Canadian government for working to secure greater market access in China for Canadian beef and veal,” said Canada Beef Inc. chair Linda Allison. “China has been an important growth market for Canadian beef and this decision will help set the stage to deepen our relationships with loyal Canadian
brand partners in that market.”
Canada Beef and the CCA says the new bone-in access is expected to add around $10 million per year in exports to China in the short term.
Darling is hopeful expanded market access to China, along with recent announcements regarding markets in Mexico and Taiwan, will spur increased cattle production.
“If we can also get the Trans-Pacific Partnership implemented and viable access to Europe, the long term potential should send the right signal for beef producers to increase their herds. We can produce more beef with confidence if we know markets will be open to purchase it,” he said.
China also lifted a 13 year ban on bone-in and boneless U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months of age.