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US-China chicken trade has been a many problemed thing - and still is

THE chicken trade between the US and China has been put on hold because of the trade war, but there is cause for optimism that the appetite for chicken will paint a bright future for chicken farmers and consumers in both countries, reports the Bangkok Post

18 August 2020 - 19:00

THE chicken trade between the US and China has been put on hold because of the trade war, but there is cause for optimism that the appetite for chicken will paint a bright future for chicken farmers and consumers in both countries, reports the Bangkok Post.

'Years of hard work by both sides to get things back on track were further supported by the phase one US-China trade deal, which was finalised in January this year,' said Bangkok Bank vice president Suwatchai Songwanich.



'When it became clear that the deal would be approved, the ban on US chicken exports to China was lifted, with officials predicting the trade would soon grow to more than US$1 billion a year,' Mr Songwanich said.



But shortly after the deal was signed, the Covid-19 pandemic came along and everything ground to a halt. China immediately clamped down on chicken imports from the US, among others, over concerns that the meat trade could provide a conduit for the spread of the virus.



The situation was exacerbated by severe restrictions on dining, travel, business and social events, which resulted in a backlog of chicken taking up storage space while officials scrambled to divert containers of frozen chicken feet elsewhere, said Mr Songwanich.



The chicken trade between the United States and China has always been a complicated one. Chinese consumers prefer dark meat and chicken feet (or paws, in industry parlance) with US consumers opting for white meat.



From 2004 to 2008, the value of chicken imported to China from the US grew from US$10 million to nearly $700 million, more than half of which came from chicken feet.



Despite this, the lucrative and mutually beneficial relationship has often fallen victim to forces far beyond the control of an average Chinese or American chicken farmer.



In 2009, the chicken trade was caught in a tit-for-tat battle when the US levied punitive tariffs on Chinese tyre imports, which were having a detrimental effect on US tyre producers. Soon after, China increased tariffs on US chicken imports, an action Beijing said was unrelated to the levy on tyres, causing the trade to drop precipitously.



Then, in 2014, when the trade in chicken was doing well again, an avian flu outbreak in several US states forced China to ban US chicken imports altogether, he said.


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