NCBA's Kent Bacus Talks Trade, Considering Access to China's Market, NAFTA Revision and JapanFri, 14 Jul 2017 11:28:33 CDT
Just back from China as part of the delegation sent over to welcome US beef into China after a 13 year ban, Kent Bacus, director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, about this significant achievement for the beef industry, during the NCBA Summer Business meeting in Denver this week.
You can listen to their full conversation, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of this story.
“It was a tremendous honor to be there alongside Ambassador Branstad, Secretary Perdue and our president, Craig Uden,” Bacus remarked about his trip while acknowledging the hurdles that must still be overcome to help the market reach its full potential. “We’re very, very happy to see beef back into China. But, we also know that it’s going to be a slow process.”
While China has granted the US beef industry access to its markets, the fact remains that viable markets must still be identified and developed in order for US beef exports to build strong commercial momentum. As organizations like the US Meat Export Federation and others attempt to do this, back home, producers will need to begin shifting their production efforts to fit within the parameters of the trade agreement with China, in order to have suitable products to meet the demand being cultivated.
“China has laws that restrict and prohibit the use of beta-agonists and hormones,” he said. “Which are obviously very important technologies we use in our industry. But at the same time, there’s such a big market in China, we’re going to try to find ways to both comply with these restrictions on our production, but still be able to produce enough product.”
A daunting task ahead, absolutely. But as a matter of fact, the US already has the infrastructure for such production practices set up in place, thanks to past trade alliances that included similar requirements. Bacus, though, says that like anything, there will always be growing pains, but assures producers will eventually adapt and production will begin to streamline. The hard part, he insists, of actually getting beef access back into China, is over. The rest will come with time.
“In the short-run, that means we’re going to have a limited source of cattle that can go,” Bacus explained. “But we’ve got our foot in the door, and as we start to adjust that and we find ways to comply, I think we’re going to have a lot more opportunities.”
The USMEF suggests that in perhaps a little as five years, China could be a $300 million per annual basis customer.
In the meantime, as we start developing China’s market, Bacus says focus is now shifting to issues such as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and brokering a deal with Japan.
“Our message to the Trump Administration has been very clear - is do no harm,” Bacus said referring to the White House’s intentions for NAFTA renegotiation. In his opinion, NAFTA has been the best free trade accord ever for the US and has worked very well for the beef industry. Instead, Bacus says NCBA would prefer to see the President concentrate on coming to a bilateral agreement with Japan, in order to stay competitive in that increasingly important market.
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