US dairy exporters claimed new deal would increase access to Chinese market

US dairy exporters claimed new deal would increase access to Chinese market

US dairy chiefs have welcomed the signing of an agreement between Washington and Beijing to boost access for dairy exporters to the Chinese market.

The US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and China's government yesterday (15 June) "will increase access to China for more than 200 US dairy exporters in the short-term and paves the way for additional US entrants in the future".

According to the USDEC, the memorandum "formally outlines a process in which third-party certification bodies, on FDA's behalf, will audit US dairy facilities to make sure they comply with Chinese food safety requirements".

The memorandum is in response to a regulation that came into force in China in 2014, which stated countries with companies wanting to export dairy products to China had first to audit the companies, to ensure they complied with Chinese food safety standards. Only then could exporters register with Chinese authorities to sell into the market.

The USDEC said no new dairy exporters could be added to China's accrediation list since the regulation was introduced because no "workable audit system" was in place. "There was never a question of US product safety," the USDEC said. "It was more a question of compliance with regulations between two countries with rigid regulatory systems."

Tom Vilsack, the former US Agriculture Secretary now ?president and CEO of the USDEC, said: "China is already the world's largest dairy importer, even though per capita consumption remains far below that of the United States, Europe and even its Asian neighbours like Japan and South Korea. The potential to increase exports there is tremendous."

The USDEC said the US shipped US$384m worth of dairy products to China in 2016, which it said made its number three "single-country export market, behind Mexico and Canada" for dairy.

The FDA could not be contacted for comment on the memorandum at the time of publication.