USA China has reopened its market for poultry imports from the United States, bringing to an end the nearly five-year ban on US poultry products.

China imposed a ban on all US poultry imports in January 2015 due to an avian influenza outbreak in December 2014. The United States has, however, been free of the disease since August 2017.

While, the United States exported over US$500 million worth of poultry products to China in 2013, the resumption of poultry exports is estimated to lead to annual sales of about US$1 billion.

“The United States welcomes China’s decision to finally lift its unwarranted ban on US poultry and poultry products. This is great news for both America’s farmers and China’s consumers,” said Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.

“China is an important export market for America’s poultry farmers, and we estimate they will now be able to export more than US$1 billion worth of poultry and poultry products each year to China.

“Reopening China to US poultry will create new export opportunities for our poultry farmers and support thousands of workers employed by the US poultry industry.”

Sonny Perdue, US Secretary of Agriculture added; “After being shut out of the market for years, US poultry producers and exporters welcome the reopening of China’s market to their products.

“America’s producers are the most productive in the world and it is critical they be able to sell their bounty to consumers in other parts of the globe.

“We will continue our work to expand market access in important markets like China as well as other countries, to support our producers and US jobs.”

The move has also been welcomed by industrial groups including the National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF) and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC).

“America’s poultry producers are committed to raising high-quality, nutritious products, and we are extremely pleased that we will once again have the opportunity to share these products with Chinese consumers. We look forward to resuming a trade partnership with China in the coming weeks,” the groups said in a joint statement.

China’s decision to lift the ban also comes at a time when the Asian country is experiencing a severe African swine fever outbreak, having slashed China’s hog herd by as much as half since August 2018.

Apart from softening the trade tension between US and China, the move is also seen as an opportunity for China to buffer its animal protein supplies. China’s imports of chicken surged nearly 48 percent to 9.2 billion yuan (US$1.3bn) in the first nine months of this year.

The United States is the world’s second largest poultry exporter, with global exports of poultry meat and products of US$4.3 billion last year.