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Chinese Ambassador Chui Tian Kai (left) and Senator Steve Daines (MT-R.) speak to the press after a meeting at a ranch near Belgrade, MT, ahead of striking a trade deal for Montana-raised beef.
MPR
Chinese Ambassador Chui Tian Kai (left) and Senator Steve Daines (MT-R.) speak to the press after a meeting at a ranch near Belgrade, MT, ahead of striking a trade deal for Montana-raised beef.

Trade dispute looms over Montana beef deal


Associated Press - April 6, 2018

BILLINGS, MT (AP) – A brewing trade war between China and the U.S. comes at an inopportune time for Montana ranchers who are seeking to close a multi-year deal to export up to $200 million of beef through China’s largest online retailer, industry representatives said this week.

The export agreement between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com was touted as a landmark agreement when it was announced in November of last year, soon after the lifting of longstanding restrictions on Chinese imports of U.S. beef.

Spurred by beef's rising popularity, particularly in urban areas, China's 1.37 billion residents were projected to eat roughly 17.6 billion pounds (8 billion kilograms) of the meat in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service. That's up more than 40 percent in the past five years.

Also included in last November's preliminary agreement with Montana ranchers was a potential $100 million investment in a new slaughterhouse in the state to process beef destined for China.

Construction originally was anticipated to start as early as this spring, but that's not going to happen, said Montana Stockgrowers Executive Vice President Errol Rice.

Looming over the export partnership is the escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Beginning Monday, April 2, 2018, Chinese officials have released those U.S. imports targeted for an increase in tariffs – many of them agriculture and forest products.  By Thursday, over $3 billion dollars in trade with China was impacted.  Later on in a week of back and forth trade threats between the U.S. and China and plummeting prices for – among others -  U.S. grain and pork producers), China regulators included beef among U.S. products targeted for a potential 25 percent increase in import duty.

Earlier, on March 1, 2018, the U.S. administration led by Donald Trump created the trade upheaval by imposing 25 and 10 percent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from China.

 
 


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