WASHINGTON — Pet food and feed advocacy groups in the US commended the signing of a “phase one” trade agreement with China on Jan. 15. As part of the deal, China will be expected to purchase and import $200 billion worth of agricultural products, manufactured goods, energy resources and services from the US between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021.

Agricultural products included in the trade deal including pet food and “non-ruminant derived animal feed,” feed additives, dairy and dairy-based products, meat and poultry, and rice, among other commodities.

Over a two-year period, the agreement states, China must purchase at least $32 billion in US agricultural products. The agreement breaks that spending down by year, requiring $12.5 billion in agricultural purchases and imports by the end of 2020 and $19.5 billion by the end of 2021.

The White House tweeted a live video of President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signing the initial deal.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) also released a fact sheet detailing additional provisions for US pet food exports to China made possible through the trade deal.

According to that fact sheet, the phase one trade deal addresses issues including certain restrictions on pet food based on poultry and bovine ingredients, and the process of registering new pet food facilities with Chinese authorities.

China has agreed to “lift its ban on US pet food containing ruminant ingredients and eliminate Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing” of those products, as well as “allow importation of US pet foods containing poultry products,” as stated in the fact sheet. 

Trade talks between China and the US will continue, as stated in the phase one agreement, to flesh out a comprehensive deal and “discuss overall economic issues.”

Pet Food Institute (PFI), a prominent advocate for the US pet food and treat industry, as well as two organizations advocating for the US feed industries, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), issued statements celebrating the signing of the deal.

Dana Brooks, president and CEO of PFI, commented: “US pet food and treat makers pride themselves on the safety and nutrition of the products they deliver to pet owners in the United States and around the world. Access to critical markets such as China means we can serve more pets and their owners. Chinese market access also means more growth and jobs for US pet food makers and our entire supply chain.”

Alan Bostick, most recent past-chair of the PFI Board of Directors and president of Sunshine Mills, Inc., attended the signing ceremony on behalf of the organization.

According to PFI, access to the Chinese market could result in an additional $300 million in pet food exports, representing a 20% overall increase.

Constance Cullman, president and CEO of AFIA, said: “Addressing the non-tariff barriers that challenge our industry in the Chinese market has been a top priority for AFIA for nearly a decade. I am very excited about what this agreement means for the US animal food industry and reopening the Chinese market for our products.”

AFIA Chairman Tim Belstra added, “This is indeed a landmark opportunity not only for the US animal food industry, but also for the livestock and poultry industries in China to further expand their feed ingredient inputs and technology.”

Belstra was also present at the signing ceremony to represent AFIA.

NGFA said the trade agreement “represents a significant first step in resolving disruptions and long-standing, festering impediments involving trade between the world’s two largest economies, and contains substantial commitments from China to purchase US food, agricultural and seafood products.”

“It also is significant that the agreement contains Chinese commitments to abide by science- and risk-based processes with transparency and specific timelines for regulatory actions related to agricultural biotechnology, animal food, and meat and poultry products,” the association added.

NGFA stated that it will continue to follow these trade negotiations in hopes that non-tariff barriers, such as sanitary and phytosanitary issues, as well as competitive open trade will be addressed in “Phase Two.”

Erick Wilkey, chairman of NGFA and president of Arizona Grain Inc., attended the signing ceremony on behalf of NGFA.

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