U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that China intends to reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork and live swine, consistent with science-based international standards.

The announcement came at the conclusion of meetings with Chinese officials at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.

“Two-way trade of agricultural, fish and forest products between the United States and China has grown in recent years to over $21 billion per year, opening increasingly important connections that can benefit farmers, ranchers and consumers in both countries,” Vilsack says. “China’s intent to remove its H1N1-related ban on U.S. pork marks an important step forward in cooperation between the two countries on agricultural issues.”

“I look forward to China resuming imports of U.S. pork products and live swine,” Kirk says. “Based on our discussions, we expect China to base its opening on science and internationally agreed standards.”

China was the fastest-growing market for the U.S. pork industry in 2008, purchasing $560 million in U.S. exports. China’s restrictions in May 2009, based on the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza virus, shut down U.S. pork shipments to China. Vilsack stressed in meetings with Chinese officials the need to remove all restrictions on trade in pork products related to the H1N1 virus, given clear guidance from international groups such as the World Organization for Animal Health, World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization that there is no risk to humans from consuming properly prepared pork and pork products.

More on the novel H1N1 influenza virus can be found at National Hog Farmer, Pork Checkoff, and the CDC.