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Published January 23, 2013, 10:34 AM

US-China dairy certificate negotiations conclude

The measure provides certainty to U.S. dairy exporters in order to enhance U.S.-China dairy trade.

By: Agweek Staff Report, Agweek

Negotiations with China on an import dairy certificate have been completed. The measure provides certainty to U.S. dairy exporters in order to enhance U.S.-China dairy trade, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

U.S. and China government officials have been negotiating a new certificate for nearly three years, since China revised its requirements under the dairy certificate in the first part of 2010. Despite continued access to the Chinese market, the lack of an agreed-upon certificate impeded greater U.S. dairy exports, as a result of the uncertainty of whether the issue would ultimately be resolved.

“We commend the administration, as well as the Chinese government, for their conscientious and cooperative work on the dairy certificate over the past three years,” said Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO. “The positive announcement of a new certificate lifts the uncertainty that hung over the Chinese market, thereby encouraging greater U.S. dairy sales.

“In addition, it is important to acknowledge the responsible example set by China in this situation due to their careful handling of trade during certificate negotiations,” Kozak continues. “Too often in the wake of new regulations, we see countries rush to shut their markets, even when no underlying food safety concern exists, simply over documentation matters. In its handling of this issue, China has set an admirable example for the world by permitting dairy trade with the U.S. to continue.”

U.S. dairy sales to China in 2012 were an estimated $400 million. U.S. dairy exports to China have grown by more than 100 percent since 2010 and are expected to continue to grow to help meet the increasing demand for dairy products in that country.

“This positive result has been several years in the making and is the result of a lot of hard work by all parties involved,” Kozak says. “NMPF is pleased to have been part of the team that helped to bring closure to this critical issue with such an important trading partner.”

The U.S. will begin issuing the new certificate immediately for product destined for China, according to NMPF. Certificates issued by the U.S. prior to Jan. 18 will be valid through March 20, but not accepted by China after that date.