WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, today sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, highlighting the opportunity to lift China’s ban on U.S. poultry while negotiating structural changes to the U.S.-China trade relationship.
“We believe that a trade agreement with China must provide for strong and lasting structural changes in order to end the unfair trade practices that have disproportionately hurt the U.S. economy and American workers,” the Senators wrote. “Agriculture is of particular importance to our states’ economies, and we urge you to use this opportunity to support America’s farmers by securing duty-free access for U.S. agricultural products and lifting the Chinese ban on U.S. poultry products.”
China was an important export market for U.S. poultry prior to 2015, when China imposed a ban on U.S. poultry due to an outbreak of avian influenza. Poultry exports to China peaked in 2008, with an export value of $722 million. Reopening this market to U.S. poultry would create new export opportunities for Delaware’s poultry farmers and support the thousands of workers employed by the poultry industry in Delaware.
Joining Senators Coons and Isakson in sending the letter were Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
The full text of the letter is below.
February 22, 2019
The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We write regarding your current negotiations with China ahead of President Trump’s deadline to reach a new trade agreement before March 1. We believe that a trade agreement with China must provide for strong and lasting structural changes in order to end the unfair trade practices that have disproportionately hurt the U.S. economy and American workers. Without effective language addressing issues such as Chinese intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, unfair subsidies for Chinese state-owned enterprises, and barriers to U.S. agriculture products, China will continue to take advantage of our free and open markets. Agriculture is of particular importance to our states’ economies, and we urge you to use this opportunity to support America’s farmers by securing duty-free access for U.S. agricultural products and lifting the Chinese ban on U.S. poultry products.
China is a critical export market for America’s farmers. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, China was the largest export market for U.S. agricultural products, with farm and food exports totaling $22 billion. Unfortunately, China’s retaliatory tariffs have resulted in reduced agricultural exports, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that agricultural exports to China could decrease to $9 billion in FY 2019.
For farmers in our states who depend on robust foreign trade, your negotiations with China represent an opportunity to reverse these market losses and reopen the Chinese market to U.S. poultry. In 2015, China imposed a ban on U.S. poultry products due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the United States. While we were encouraged by China’s decision to remove anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on U.S. broiler chickens in February 2018, the market remains closed to U.S. poultry products because of the ban. Poultry exports to China peaked in 2008, with an export value of $722 million. Reopening this export market would strengthen the economies of our rural communities, supporting hundreds of thousands of workers who are employed by the poultry industry.
In his State of the Union address on February 5, 2019, President Trump committed to ensuring that a new trade agreement with China will “include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices.” We share this goal, and we are hopeful that you will also work to support our agricultural industries and secure open and enforceable access to the Chinese market for U.S. poultry.