By Jonathan Martin
China will impose a 25 per cent increase in tariffs on U.S. swine and has cancelled orders for 3,247 metric tons (3,579 U.S. tons) of U.S. pork.
The tariffs are will take effect June 1, the USDA reports. At present, Chinese tariffs on U.S. pork range from 12 to 25 per cent, depending on the product. The increase will bring tariffs on “fresh or chilled swine meat” up to 70 per cent.
Earlier this year, China canceled purchases of 53 metric tons (58 U.S. tons) of U.S. pork products in the week ended Feb. 28, purchases of 999 metric tons (1101 U.S. tons) in the week ended March 21, and 214 metric tons (236 U.S. tons) in the week ended April 18, Reuters reports.
The cancellation of U.S. pork orders comes as a surprise to the farm industry. African Swine fever (ASF) has ravaged the Chinese mainland and recently spread into Hong Kong, which led to a widespread culling of Chinese and Hong Kong swine herds. ASF is a highly infectious disease that kills almost all infected swine, but it is not dangerous to humans.
U.S. farmers were counting on China increasing pork purchases to make up for its reduced domestic herd size. China is the world’s largest consumer of pork products and equates to a $6.5-billion export market for U.S. producers. Prior to the trade war, China was the second largest market for U.S. swine.
Last week, the USDA said it will begin testing U.S. swine for ASF as part of a surveillance program. The strategy is a coordinated effort between the U.S., Canada and Mexico to “minimize virus spread and support efforts to restore trade markets and animal movements as quickly as possible should the disease be detected” in North America, a Friday press release said.
Despite Chinese ASF concerns, the country is in “no rush” to resume trade talks with the U.S., the South China Morning Post reported Saturday.