Red Meat Exports Thrived in First Year of U.S.-China Phase One Agreement

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One year has passed since the red meat trade provisions of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement entered into force, expanding access for U.S. beef and pork in the world’s largest red meat import market.

Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, explains that while U.S. pork exports to China would have been large in 2020 with or without Phase One, the agreement helped calm trade tensions between the two countries and simplified the process for U.S. plants seeking approval for export to China. This helped the U.S. pork industry gain broader and more consistent access to China at a time when China faces a significant pork shortage due to African swine fever.

On the beef side, Haggard notes that Phase One greatly improved the prospects for U.S. exports by bringing China’s beef import requirements more in line with international standards, especially in the area of synthetic hormone use. With beef from a far greater percentage of U.S. cattle now eligible, export volumes are increasing rapidly and Haggard expects China to be a top five market for U.S. beef in 2021.

In 2020, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to China were record-large at nearly 1 million metric tons, valued at $2.28 billion. U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports to China were just under 43,000 metric tons, also a new record and up more than 300% from 2019. Beef export value was $310.2 million, a year-over-year increase of 260%.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.