USMEF Hopes to Build on East Asian Success to Gain Toehold in Chinese MarketWed, 15 Jan 2014 14:39:26 CST
The US Meat Export Federation has had tremendous success in the last couple of years opening markets to U.S. producers. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with USMEF's Phil Seng at the recent International Livestock Congress-USA in Denver, Colorado and asked Seng about USMEF's encore after so much success.
"In 2013 we looked at the Japan market with its opening to 30-month cattle as being very momentous. And, obviously, with the fact that we're up 57 percent on our exports to Japan this year over last year, that's proved to be the case.
"I think where we are this year is we're looking at the Chinese market, maybe, as the one market that's going to have a lot of promise and potential for us. It looks like that's going to be midsummer at the earliest, but I think that what Japan was for us I think China will portend that, hopefully, for 2014.
"I think another market that's very important for the beef industry is the Russian market. We've been out of that Russian market now in February it will be 12 months. And although that's going at a glacial pace at this point in time, if we could get China and Russia back up to speed we would have a very good year next year.
"I'd also have to add that just like everybody else here in this industry we're concerned about the paucity of cattle, the paucity of supply, the prices that that is going to drive as far as the export market. A lot of these countries where they've got duties of 30 to 40 percent in addition to the price of the product, it makes it very, very prohibitively expensive. So these are things we're looking at as well."
Seng said the key to the Chinese market is in providing them with more information from a traceability and bio-security standpoint. He also said that U.S. trade representatives have to be persistent in their efforts to open the Chinese market.
"The Chinese like to link a lot of different things to a negotiation. We're constantly trying to delink them so we can talk purely about the issues. So, that's an arm-wrestling contest, but, frankly, we're making some progress with the Chinese and I'm optimistic that Secretary Vilsack and some of the work he's been doing especially is going to pay some dividends for us."
Seng says his organization has been doing work in China in preparation for more open markets for a decade.
"There's been a lot of growth, a lot of change in China. We're following that growth with working with a lot of people. We're doing a lot of educational work so that when that market opens up, I think our packers and our industry they still have presence there. They're still working in those markets so I think we can do it pretty quickly once we get back in there."
One of the issues that is making the USMEF's job a little more difficult is the ban on beta agonists in China, Russia and the European markets.
"There are these international guidelines that we like to extol, but we have to do a better job of conveying that our science into these compounds and the things we are using that there are no risks to the consumer. It just makes it incumbent upon us to do more in that regard than we have in the past."
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