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Effective June 1, China imposed new labeling requirements on imported meat products that are certain to cause problems for exporters of U.S. pork. China remains closed to U.S. beef, but imported nearly 140 million pounds of U.S. pork and pork variety meat in the first quarter of this year, valued at about $94 million. According to Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access, the new labeling requirements will have an adverse impact on pork trade with China because the cost of compliance will be a disincentive for U.S. processors. This is especially likely because even though China is a high volume destination, most products are lower in value and do not generate a high profit margin.
Lively emphasizes that these new requirements are not a surprise – USMEF has been working with trade officials from the U.S. and China for several months in an attempt to reach a reasonable compromise. But at least to date, these efforts have not met with a great deal of success. Lively notes that several of these new requirements will cause problems, but China’s insistence that exporters weigh and label individual packages of pork is the new regulation that will add the most cost and present the largest barrier to trade.