U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the Chinese have agreed to allow American beef exports back into China on a staged basis.
Vilsack said he hopes the first shipments will be made in early 2011. He said a team from the Department of Agriculture will visit China in early January address remaining inspection issues.
China imposed a ban on all beef imports from the U.S. in 2003 over concerns about BSE. Beijing later lifted the outright ban but the United States has been unable to overcome continued barriers involving the inspection of the beef.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said China would, in accordance with scientific principles and quarantine standards, "resume the imports of American beef, both deboned and bone-in, under the age of 30 months."
Reopening the Chinese market could mean "about $200 million in annual beef business," said Joe Schuele, a spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
The talks were part of the 21st session of the Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade, which was established in 1983, to provide a channel for both countries to address trade disputes.