US farmers and exporters are continuing to benefit from the relaxation of the trade dispute between their government and China.
American beef is currently filling the gap left by reduced production and supply from Australia – which has been further constrained by heightening political tensions between the two nations.
Also benefiting US farmers is Argentina's ongoing suspension of beef exports.
The 30-day Argentinian ban on beef exports was due to expire on 21 June, though discussions remain ongoing between the government and exporters on any resumption, with restrictions on the volumes exported.
Latest US beef export figures to the end of April, published by the US Meat Export Federation, are largely unaffected by the Argentinian suspension, but we can be certain that it has created further opportunity which will be reflected in May and June figures.
US passes 2020 exports to China
Returning to China, the US exported 17,233t of beef to China in April, bringing the total for the year to date to 48,291t, which exceeds the total amount for 2020.
What is striking from an Irish point of view is that at the point when Irish beef exports to China were suspended in May 2020, China had imported 7,315t of Irish beef for the year, which was higher than they had imported from the US at that point.
Now, a year later, there has been a seven-fold increase US imports, while Ireland is out of the picture completely.
In more good news for American farmers, US pigmeat exports to China and Hong Kong for the first four months of this year were 318,780t – 30% of all US pigmeat exports.
However, this is a reduction in the same period in 2020 when China accounted for 35% of US pigmeat exports.
With the UK's policy on trade deals in the news of late, it is interesting to observe how Japan triggering its safeguard mechanism reduced the flow of US imports in April.
The US-Japan trade deal has a progressively reducing scale for tariffs from 38.5% down to 9% over 15 years.
They are currently at 25%, but were restored to 38.5% from the middle of March to the middle of April and, as a result, Japanese beef imports from the US were down 19% compared with April 2020 to 25,293t.
Overall US beef exports in April, according to the US Meat Export Federation, were 121,050t, while for the year to date, 454,398t of US beef has been exported.
The US is on track to be the second-largest beef exporter in the world this year behind Brazil.