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Expanded Access for U.S. Beef in Hong Kong

Published: Jun 20, 2014
Effective June 17, Hong Kong agreed to further expand access for U.S. beef. The FSIS Export Library has been updated to reflect these changes, allowing exporters to immediately begin shipping an expanded range of products.

“This essentially represents a full opening of the Hong Kong market, with important additions such as ground beef and processed meats,” said Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. “The few restrictions that remain will not have much impact on the market’s performance, but it is important that exporters be aware of them.”

Details of the revised export requirements for Hong Kong include:

• The AMS Export Verification (EV) program is no longer required for cattle slaughtered on or after June 17, 2014. But for bone-in products that became eligible in February 2013 and are derived from cattle slaughtered prior to June 17, the EV program is still required.
• Processed meats are now fully eligible for Hong Kong.
• Ground beef from cattle slaughtered on or after June 17 is now eligible, but all ground beef entering Hong Kong (from all suppliers) is subject to special licensing procedures. So, exporters should ensure that their importers are in compliance with these procedures. As noted below, ground beef destined for Hong Kong cannot contain lean finely textured beef (LFTB).
• Products ineligible for Hong Kong are LFTB, mechanically separated meat, scrap meat, trimmings and product from advanced meat recovery systems. References to ground beef, offal, variety meat and bone-in beef from over-30-month cattle have been removed from the ineligible products list.

Hong Kong was one of the first Asian markets to reopen to U.S. beef after the 2003 BSE case, allowing boneless muscle cuts from cattle less than 30 months of age. While the U.S. industry was able to achieve significant export growth in Hong Kong, the level of market access remained stagnant for about eight years. In February 2013, Hong Kong opened to bone-in cuts and some offal products from cattle less than 30 months of age, and to boneless muscle cuts from cattle of all ages. These changes helped fuel an exceptional performance in 2013, as U.S. exports to Hong Kong increased 91 percent in volume (to 130,112 metric tons) and 140 percent in value (to $823.3 million) over the previous year.

“Getting bone-in cuts into Hong Kong was obviously a big step,” Haggard explained. “The ability to move some cuts from over-30-month cattle was helpful as well. But full access is really what we’ve been striving for, so this week’s announcement came as very welcome news.”