The United States and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last month that will increase access to China for more than 200 U.S. dairy exporters in the short-term and paves the way for additional U.S. entrants in the future. The action creates new, sizeable opportunities for dairy farmers and processors, and the milk, cheese, infant formula and ingredients they produce.
After more than two years of extensive effort by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), in close cooperation with the National Milk Producers Federation’s policy staff, the U.S. and Chinese governments have reached an accord on dairy trade assurances that will allow more exports from the United States. The dairy organizations worked closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) to implement a workable registration process allowing for trade to continue and even expand in the future.
The MOU formally outlines a process in which third-party certification bodies, on FDA’s behalf, will audit U.S. dairy facilities to make sure they comply with Chinese food safety requirements. There was never a question of U.S. product safety. It was more a question of compliance with regulations between two countries with rigid regulatory systems.
The United States shipped $384 million worth of dairy products to China in 2016, making it the industry’s No. 3 single-country export market, behind Mexico and Canada. With Chinese demand for imported milk and other dairy products increasing, the potential for job-creating U.S. exports has been high. But market access has been a challenge.