China Lifts Ban On U.S. Poultry Imports


China has lifted a ban on USA poultry and poultry products that has been in place since the December 2014 avian flu outbreak, opening the door to a potential $1 billion worth of exports from the USA to China.

It is also driven by an unprecedented shortage of meat in China after a fatal hog disease, African swine fever, has killed millions of pigs in the pork-loving country over the past year.

China had blocked USA poultry imports a month after an outbreak of avian influenza in December 2014, closing off a market that bought more than $500 million worth of American chicken, turkey and other poultry products in 2013.

In Washington, the US Trade Representative's office welcomed the decision, saying it should help drive annual US poultry exports above $1 billion. Tyson Foods shares were up 4.6 percent in morning trade, Sanderson Farms rose 4.2 percent and Pilgrim's Pride Corp shares were up 2.2 percent, outperforming a largely flat stock market on Thursday.

"The United States welcomes China's decision to finally lift its unwarranted ban on US poultry and poultry products".

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The lifting of the ban is "great news for both America's farmers and China's consumers", Lighthizer said.

US agricultural groups have largely emphasized concrete steps to open Chinese markets to more USA sales, rather than specific purchasing targets.

Beijing wants to avoid appearing to accept a deal that looks like too much of a win for the US, according to the report.

The U.S. has been free of avian influenza for over two years, according to the Agriculture Department, and other countries have already allowed chicken sales to resume. In addition, it is demanding the roll-back of existing USA tariffs as part of any phase one deal. "I speculate that the White House might be making this announcement to counter recent press reports that trade war negotiations are faltering". Trump has said that the USA will substantially increase tariffs on China if the first step of a broader agreement isn't reached.

Amid signs of easing tensions, the Chinese commerce ministry last week said the two sides had agreed on a plan to roll back tariffs in stages - only to have US President Donald Trump deny that any such plan had been made.