Hong Kong expands market access for US beef

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Beef from cattle over 30 months old will now be eligible for export
Beef from cattle over 30 months old will now be eligible for export

Related tags Beef products Bovine spongiform encephalopathy Beef

The United States has agreed a deal with Hong Kong, which will see an expanded range of US beef and beef products eligible for export to the region.

Since December 2003, only deboned beef (from all cattle) and certain bone-in beef producers (from cattle less than 30 months of age) could be shipped to Hong Kong.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, announced this week that new terms and conditions have been agreed, which mean that Hong Kong will permit the import of the full range of US beef and beef products, consistent with access prior to December ’03.

Vilsack said: "Hong Kong is already the fourth-largest market for US beef and beef product exports, with sales there reaching an historic high of $823 million in 2013. We look forward to expanded opportunities there for the US beef industry now that all trade restrictions are lifted."

Earlier this year, Mexico, Uruguay, Ecuador and Sri Lanka also lifted their longstanding restrictions to provide full access for US beef and beef products, said the USDA.

"Last year, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) granted the United States negligible risk status for BSE, further affirming the safety of US beef and beef products,"​ added Vilsack.

In December 2003, Hong Kong banned US beef and beef products following the detection of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-positive animal in the United States. It later reopened market access for certain products in December 2005, and expanded this access further in February 2013.

The move to fully lift the ban on US beef and beef products has been welcomed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in the US.

Bob McCan, president of the NCBA, said it was not only great news for cattlemen and women, "but also a strong assurance that the interlocking safeguards put in place are working to build international market demand".

"Cattle producers had a major victory in Paris last year, when the OIE upgraded our risk status to negligible risk, the lowest risk standard, recognising our strong commitment to beef safety,"​ said McCan.

"And we applauded the USDA/APHIS in the finalisation of the comprehensive BSE rule, which showed our trading partners and the world that we stand behind internationally-accepted science. This has brought the US beef industry to the point now where we are exporting more than $6bn of beef annually."

According to the NCBA, Hong Kong imported more than $823m worth of US beef last year and, in the first four months of 2014, it has already imported more than $307m.

The new terms became effective on 17 June 2014.

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