Governments of the United States and China have hammered out an agreement to resume U.S. pork shipments to China, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

“When I traveled to China with U.S. Trade Representative Kirk in October, our discussions with Chinese officials laid the groundwork for reopening this market,” says Vilsack. “This resolution is excellent news for American hog producers.”

“This agreement is a win for America’s pork producers, whose safe and high-quality exports can now flow freely into China and support agricultural jobs here at home,” says Kirk. “I am also pleased that China affirmed in our meetings that they will base their decisions on international science-based guidelines. We look forward to working cooperatively to resolve additional issues, including a resumption of trade in beef.”

The United States exported 20% of its pork production in 2009, but a limited amount went to China due to H1N1 trade constraints. U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to China were valued at nearly $275 million in 2008 when China was the seventh-largest market and took 6% of U.S. pork exports.

China accepted the U.S. proposal to resume exports of U.S. pork products on March 17, following meetings with U.S. officials earlier this week. Pork trade is expected to resume immediately once both sides finalize the export documentation.

In meeting with Chinese officials last October, U.S. officials repeatedly stressed the need for China to remove all restrictions on trade in pork products involving the novel H1N1 virus. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization all concurred that there is no risk to humans from consumption of properly prepared pork and pork products.