US pork sits in ports as China ramps up checks in potentially costly slowdown
China has ramped up inspections of pork shipped from the US, importers and industry sources said, the latest American product to be hit by a potentially costly slowdown at Chinese ports in the past couple of weeks.
Some trade experts said they believe Beijing is sending a defiant warning to Washington in response to sweeping US trade demands made on China last week.
The stepped-up checks have even hit China’s WH Group Ltd, the world’s largest pork company and owner of Smithfield Foods in the US, and come amid increasing scrutiny of other US farm goods, including fruit and logs.
Ports are opening and inspecting every cargo that arrives, said Luis Chein, a director at WH Group, China’s top importer of US pork.
That compares with inspections carried out only “randomly” in the past, he told Reuters, significantly lengthening the time product stays at the port. The Chinese imports account for only about 2pc of WH Group sales.
China’s General Administration of Customs, which oversees food imports, did not respond to a fax seeking comment.
“The President has been clear that China needs to treat U.S. agricultural products more fairly, and we are troubled by reports that China continues to impose unjustified restrictions on U.S. products,” said a US Agriculture Department spokesman.
Increased checks on US products are “not terribly surprising,” said Even Rogers Pay, an agriculture analyst at China Policy, a Beijing-based consultancy.