China’s Trade Minister Chen Deming is expecting an increase in trade disputes in 2012 as global markets continue to shrink due to worsening economic weakness. The trade official cites a possible increase in trade protectionism by Europe and the United States amid declining demand due to the global economic slowdown.  

Chen spoke on the eve of the World Trade Organization's ministerial conference in Geneva, according to a Reuters report. Previously, China had announced it would slap duties on large U.S. cars and SUVs.

"There is a possibility of trade protectionism getting more serious next year, because we expect the global market might contract," Chen told a news conference in Geneva. Chen said China's own exports fell by about two percent per month for the last three months.

So could potential trade disputes with China carry the possibility of interfering with a rapidly growing market for U.S. pork producers? “USMEF’s China team is focused on constructive engagement with the Chinese government and meat industry to better understand each other's needs,” said Joel Haggard, USMEF’s Hong Kong-based senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region. “Our strategy is to try to work through key issues rather than respond to crises, which is really in the best interests of leaders in both countries.”

China was the largest volume market for U.S. pork in October at 48,678 metric tons, more than double the year-ago volume and setting another monthly record. Through October, exports to the China/Hong Kong region were up 60 percent to 361,690 metric tons, valued at $654.4 million (up 82 percent).

In the past, China had delisted some U.S. pork plants due to issues it cited with ractopamine, a widely used feed additive in U.S. pork production which is banned by China. Ractopamine, like all feed additives, was evaluated and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has been approved for use in 26 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea.

Source: Reuters, USMEF