Meat traders await China-U.S. agreement details
Updated 04:51, 15-Jan-2020

Chinese New Year is coming, and it's the season for the festival shopping. 

Ever since China's multi-million-ton pork shortage in 2019, some have been joking that pork would make the best Spring Festival gift this year. 

But while China's huge purchases have been driving pork prices to an all-time high in some exporting countries, the U.S. has been missing out because of punitive duties. 

CGTN's Xu Mengqi visited several of Shanghai's supermarkets that are known for their imported goods. It's been hard to find U.S. meat products. 

The only place she could find U.S. pork is one that sells premium pork and beef. 

Its managers told CGTN that they used to have pork chops from the U.S., but now they sell meat from countries like Canada and Spain. 

"After the swine fever outbreak, we enlarged our pork imports on a growth scale of 100 to 150 percent. In 2018 we imported around 25,000 tons of pork. In 2019 it was close to 50,000," said Xu Wei. Xu is General Manager of Shanghai New Source Intl. Trading Co., Ltd. 

Xu has been importing meat for two decades. He said U.S. pork and beef used to make up 20 to 30 percent of his total purchases. But now, it only accounts for three to five percent. 

On January 1st, China dropped the most-favored-nation tariffs from 12 to 8 percent for frozen pork imports. 

But EU suppliers, which dominate the import market, still enjoy a 60-percentage point advantage in duties over the U.S. 

However, Xu is still interested in U.S. exports. He said he is ready to stock up on U.S. meat if China's tariffs get rolled back substantially. 

Law professor Yi Bo, has been closely following the trade negotiations. He says traders who are more confident about China's agreement to buy more U.S. meat are already making preparations to do that. 

"As far as I know, some traders and farmers in the U.S. are preparing to export poultry or pork meat to China," he said. 

Yi is an Associate Professor at Southeast University Law School. 

For now, buyers and sellers in China and U.S. are paying close attention to Wednesday's signing of the "phase one" agreement, waiting to read details in the final text.