Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus urged Chinese Commerce Minster Chen Deming to comply with international rules and open the Chinese market to U.S. beef during a one-on-one meeting at the APEC trade summit in Big Sky yesterday. Tomorrow, Baucus is hosting a Montana steak and eggs breakfast with Montana agriculture leaders, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and senior officials from APEC's 21 member economies.
"APEC is all about building and strengthening trade relationships around the world, and one of America's most important relationships is with China. Jobs from Big Sky to Beijing are counting on both countries to keep our trade partnership strong, but China must compete fairly for our partnership to work well for both countries," said Baucus. "Montana ranchers produce the best beef in the world, and the science is clearly in our corner. It's time for China to recognize international standards and lift trade barriers that are unfairly impeding American exports and hurting hardworking Montana ranchers."
Last September, Baucus brought the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhang Yesui, and other ambassadors from around the world to Big Sky to kick off the Montana host committee for APEC. During the ambassadors' visit to Montana, Baucus hosted a tour of a Montana ranch and meetings with Montana ag producers to promote Montana beef. As a result, the Chinese Ambassador announced at Baucus' Economic Development Summit in Butte that he would direct his embassy to explore ways to increase China's purchases of Montana wheat and beef.
In October, Baucus traveled to Beijing to press Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and other top Chinese officials to work with the United States to reach an agreement ending restrictions on American beef as soon as possible. Baucus continued to press China to make good on that promise yesterday.
Chilean Ambassador to the Unites States Arturo Fermandois also participated in Baucus ambassadors' tour of Montana last summer and will join Baucus at tomorrow's breakfast. As a result of Fermandois' visit to the Montana cattle ranch, Chile fully opened its market to all ages and all cuts of American beef this March.
Today Baucus also pressed Minster Chen Deming to address other issues hurting the competitiveness of Montana exporters - including China's ineffective protection and enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights, including the piracy of American software.
Commerce Minister Chen Deming is responsible for international trade policy in China. Baucus is chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, with sole jurisdiction over international trade.
American beef has been certified safe by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which is the internationally recognized standard-setting body for animal food products. China's current restrictions effectively ban the importation of American beef.