Before the United States found one Canadian cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) the annual trade of beef and ruminant products totaled $7.5 billion. Within hours of the announcement 64% of that was closed.
To date, USDA has whittled that number down to 41% of the markets closed. Trade teams are working around the world to convince trading partners that U.S. beef is safe. A few weeks ago Japan agreed to principles of resuming trade.
Shortly after Taiwan agreed to similar principles. In an update given this week, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services J.B. Penn says Taiwan has completed its internal review process, and is a step away from resuming trade with the U.S. "That final step is the due diligence; that is, to get a first-hand view of the operation of our beef production and processing system," Penn says.
Penn reports that a team of Taiwan technical consultants plans to arrive in Washington, D.C. for a one-week visit this Sunday. They then will return and report their results so that a final decision can be taken.
While here, the team will meet with Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service officials. From there the team will travel to the Middle West to visit processing facilities to watch actual animal slaughter
"They're probably going to visit some testing labs, a cattle feedlot, a rendering facility-- basically to get a much better appreciation of the overall beef production and meat processing system in the United States and also to learn more about all of the procedures that we've put in place," Penn says. They'll be verifying that the U.S. is indeed implementing the practices that we've indicated to them that we have on paper, he adds.
In other trade news
China is not ready to fully resume beef trade, but on Tuesday the country did announce it is lifting its ban on the imports of U.S. live poultry and poultry products.
After the U.S. BSE case China also banned low-risk beef products including semen and embryo. "We now have some indications that some movement may be imminent on the low-risk products, and we agreed to continue our technical discussion to help them become better informed about BSE and the measures we have put in place to ensure safe trade," Penn says.
Penn reports discussions with both Hong Kong and Macao have been extensive and he is "optimistic" that trade can resume soon on some products. An Egyptian technical team is also scheduled to arrive in the United States shortly for further consultations.