Skelton glad China ended H1N1 flu closure of markets to American pork
By: U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton
Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 8:16 am
Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 15, 2010) — Yesterday, Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) issued the following statement after learning that China is now accepting U.S. pork shipments:
“When China overreacted at the onset of H1N1 human influenza in the United States and closed its market to American pork, I was, quite simply, upset.
“Though it took a great deal of unnecessary wrangling, I am very pleased that the Chinese government today gave notice that it will begin accepting shipments of American pork products. This action will be of tremendous benefit to both the American pork industry and to foreign consumers who enjoy eating quality, American pork products,” said Skelton.
Following the onset of H1N1 human influenza and the closure of Chinese markets to American pork, Congressman Skelton urged the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to find a solution on behalf of U.S. farmers. On February 25, 2010, Congressman Skelton wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative (letter attached), urging a conclusion to the China trade dispute and received a response on April 2, 2010 (letter attached).
Over the past year, Congressman Skelton has met with Missouri pork producers on several occasions. The trade dispute with China was typically a top priority during these meetings. _____
February 25, 2010
Ike Skelton Congress of the United States 2205 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-2504
The Honorable Ron Kirk U.S. Trade Representative Washington, D.C. 20508
Dear Ambassador Kirk,
As a representative of rural Missouri, I was terribly concerned last year when foreign nations began erecting trade barriers to prevent the import of American pork as a result of misinformation about H1N1 human influenza. In response to these international actions, the U.S. government responded quickly and forcefully in favor of American producers. I appreciate your work and the work of Secretary Vilsack on behalf of U.S. farmers.
Several months ago, China pledged to reopen its markets to American pork exports, which is good news for a U.S. pork industry that has faced tough times in recent years. China is a valuable export market for American pork products. We must do everything possible to ensure the commitment to reopen China’s market is fully honored.
As you pursue solutions to this complex trade issue, please consider how important opening the Chinese market is for the men and women involved in the American pork industry. Simply put, they need this market opened as quickly as possible.
With kind regards, I am, Sincerely, Ike Skelton Member of Congress _____
April 2, 2010
Executive Office of the President The United States Trade Representative Washington, D.C. 20508
The Honorable Ike Skelton U.S. House of Representatives 2206 Rayburn HOB Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman Skelton:
Thank you for your recent letter regarding market access for American pork in the People’s Republic of China. As you note in your letter, Secretary Vilsack and I have worked hard to life all restrictions on U.S. live swine, pork and pork products imposed throughout the world in wake of the emergence of the H1N1 influenza virus.
We have had many successes and I am pleased to inform you that the United States and China recently reached an agreement to reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork and pork products.
Under the new agreement, China agreed to reopen its market to all pork products and to base its decisions on international science-based guidelines. Pork trade will resume once both countries finalize the export documentation.
Since the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has worked closely with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control to assure our trading partners that American pork is safe. USTR and USDA have also worked tirelessly with the relevant international organizations and the U.S. pork industry to promote science based measures and I am pleased that almost all of our trading partners who imposed restrictions on U.S. live swine, pork and pork products since April 2009 have removed those restrictions.
Given the importance of the Chinese market to U.S. agricultural interests, this is a major win for America’s pork producers. I look forward to working with you in the future to ensure that foreign markets remain open for U.S. agricultural exports.
Sincerely, Ambassador Ron Kirk
Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.