A Game of Chicken

The story of how US-China poultry trade went cold for nearly a decade, and why it suddenly re-opened last year.


Joel Greene, China Business Review 

March 24, 2020


Greene was a trade and livestock analyst at USDA and is now a livestock policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service (CRS)


In November 2019, China lifted its ban on importing US chicken that had been in place since 2015 following a US outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The agreement to lift the ban was announced before the Phase One trade agreement was reached and signed with China. Although the agreements on chicken were not directly tied to the Phase One deal, provisions agreed to in Phase One, if fully implemented, should strengthen export access for the US chicken industry.


At the same time, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Chinese domestic chicken could be exported to the United States if the products were fully cooked, granting China access to the US market for the first time.


The process of China receiving access was more than 15 years in the making. A leader in the US poultry export industry believes bans on US exports were maintained to gain Chinese poultry access to the United States. China may not export much to the United States, but access was a matter of “pride and principle” for China.


To understand why it took so long for the world’s two largest chicken producers to trade with each other again, we have to go back to the beginning.


Trading blows ...


China’s safety approvals were met with objection from the Hill ...


What the Phase One deal means for poultry exporters ...


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