Feed Bites

The Importance of Free, Fair and Reciprocal Trade

Written by: Guest   |   January 15, 2020

China, Trade

Tim Belstra 
AFIA Chair of the Board 2019-20  
Part Owner and Chair of the Board, Belstra Milling

Today, I had the wonderful and humbling experience of seeing firsthand the United States and China sign a historic phase one agreement on trade. Growing up and living in the Midwest, one would think I’m far removed from the struggles of U.S. and Chinese trade woes, but I haven’t been and I am not.

As Chairman of the American Feed Industry Association and of Belstra Milling Company, Inc., a family and employee-owned regional, independent livestock feed manufacturer in DeMotte, Indiana, I have learned of and lived the everyday struggles the U.S. feed industry faces in evolving with the global needs, demands and limitations to feed a growing population. Paramount to these struggles is the ability to export and engage in foreign markets in a fair and transparent manner, one that respects the sovereignty of nations, while upholding international science-based standards and obligations, and affords businesses the opportunities to compete on equal footing.

The administration’s engagement with China over the last almost two years has allowed AFIA, through our negotiators, to bring light to the outstanding, serious challenges our industry faces in the Chinese market. It has allowed these issues to be discussed in a larger context of challenges U.S. businesses in general have been facing when doing business with and within China.

Throughout these negotiations, AFIA has been actively engaged with U.S. trade negotiators, sharing and educating them on the key challenges our industry faces. For example, no new U.S. feed additive, premix or compound feed products have been allowed to enter China since 2011 due to a facility registration requirement that still lacks a process for compliance. Additionally, for feed products that do have current procedures in place for facility registration compliance, such as for animal-based feed and pet food products, it is still extremely difficult to get new facilities approved and renewed. Creating even more challenges is China’s ban on both ruminant-origin feed ingredients and on poultry ingredients (except for poultry and feather meals). These challenges alone stack the deck against the U.S. feed industry, leaving us at a severe disadvantage in this very important market.

After reviewing the text of the agreement, I am delighted to share that our asks have not fallen on deaf ears! This is a historic agreement that directly addresses, in detail, our issues. The agreement specifically lays out commitments and timelines for streamlining and facilitating a facility registration process for feed additives, premixes and compound feed, lifts the poultry and ruminant ban for animal food products, and finalizes a regionalization protocol for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

If China, indeed, adheres to these commitments, the Chinese market will open up once again for new feed additives, premixes and compound feed products for the first time since 2011. U.S. animal food manufacturers will be able to export a greater variety of products, no longer restricted by bans on ruminant and poultry ingredients.

Seeing this phase one trade agreement between these two nations being signed today gives me hope. Hope for progress. Hope for future opportunities for our industry. Hope for transparency. Here’s to hoping the commitments within this agreement with China will come to fruition and grant the U.S. animal food industry opportunities for growth in the Chinese market.


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