It has roughly been a month since China threatened to impose tariffs on United States beef, corn and soybean exports. However, United States beef producers still fear the possibility of a trade war.
China reopened its doors to United States beef products in July, after a 13 year hiatus. Farmers for Free Trade executive director Brian Kuehl says he fears the pending trade war could ruin the United States efforts to introduce beef back into the Chinese market.
“Senator Max Baucus from Montana is one of our co-chair and was ambassador to China. This has been one of his causes for years, to try to crack open that market. I think we were all very excited to see that beef could start to be sold in China. We’re worried that this trade war could set that back,” Kuehl said.
Kuehl adds, “Once you’ve lost market access, you don’t get that market back.” He hopes the Trump Administration can resolve this matter before it harms United States agriculture.
“There’s been positive signals from the White House that they’re going to be in direct talks with China, which is great. That’s our hope. No one is saying that China is behaving well. It’s not a matter of if we should be addressing China’s actions, of course we should. We’re concerned about what’s the impact on agriculture. We want to make sure that agriculture’s taken care of and that this doesn’t turn into a trade war that lasts two years, during which we lose market access. Once you’ve lost market access, even if the trade war ends, you don’t get that back. You know some of your competitors stepped in and are selling product,” Kuehl said.
China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016.