Chinese trade barriers to U.S. pet food ‘unscientific’

One major barrier to U.S. pet food sales in China preceded the trade war and remains in effect.

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(digitalista | BigStock.com)
(digitalista | BigStock.com)

Although no new trade restrictions have arisen, a 25% retaliatory tariff remains on U.S. pet food exports to China. China imposed the tariffs in July 2018 as part of the ongoing trade war with the United States.

“Importantly, American pet food makers already had extremely limited access to the Chinese market, so these tariffs created an additional and onerous barrier to entry,” Peter Tabor, vice president of regulatory and international affairs for the Pet Food Institute (PFI), said.

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One major barrier to U.S. pet food sales in China preceded the trade war and remains in effect.

“Our exports are already very limited due to unscientific and arbitrary Chinese import restrictions related to animal diseases,” he said. “These restrictions fail to acknowledge the extraordinary and effective measures U.S. regulators and industry have taken to ensure the safety of a wide range of animal products, including pet food.

“Unfortunately, the Chinese government maintains policies and restrictions that are not based in sound science. These restrictions not only limit the opportunity for American pet food makers to sell in China, but also affects Chinese pets and pet owners, who are denied access to safe U.S. pet food products.”

U.S. and China trade war affects wet pet food

As for the current trade war, other Chinese retaliatory tariffs also affect U.S. pet food packaging. Dog, cat and other pet food companies use billions of cans per year to package wet pet food, said Tabor.

“The steel and aluminum import tariffs - at 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively - certainly raise the packaging costs,” he said.

Other than metal cans, raw materials for pet food remain largely unaffected by the trade war.

“Since most ingredients in U.S. pet food are homegrown, China is not a significant source of raw materials,” he said.

PFI support for Chinese trade policy change

Ultimately, this trade war between China and the U.S. may lead to changes that will benefit pet food companies, despite the current problems.

“PFI recognizes the need for the United States to address both systemic and market access challenges posed by unfair Chinese trade practices,” Tabor said. “We support the efforts of U.S. negotiators to encourage China to align its trade and import policies and regulations with those of many 21st century economies. We look forward to a successful conclusion of negotiations between Chinese and U.S. officials to bring an end to this impasse.”

With the conclusion of the trade war, U.S. pet food companies may gain greater access to an already gigantic and growing number of pet owners in China.

"The Chinese market has so much potential," Tabor said. "The Chinese middle class is larger than the entire U.S. population and pet ownership is growing."

 

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