Breaking through trade barriers with China could increase U.S. agricultural exports by as much as $5 billion, according to a study by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The study, completed at the request of Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) indicates that U.S. farmers lose as much as $3.1 billion in annual trade due to trade policies – primarily due to non-tariff restrictions, such as H1N1 influenza virus related restrictions imposed on U.S. pork.

Following the release of the study, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined Sens. Baucus and Grassley in urging China to reduce trade barrier facing U.S. agricultural products.

According to the Des Moines Register, the study estimates that Chinese tariffs and quotas reduced U.S. agricultural exports by as much as $2.1 billion while non-tariff measures reduced U.S. ag exports by as much as $3.1 billion in 2009.

"Results suggest that the elimination of Chinese tariffs and non-tariff measures could lead to an additional $3.9 billion to $5.2 billion in US agricultural exports to China," the US International Trade Commission said.

Sen. Grassley said in a news release, “these rules include eliminating non-tariff trade barriers that have no basis in science or that exist just to prop up a domestic industry at the exclusion of trade partners.   This report shows China’s policies harm exports of U.S. products including pork, beef, and corn.  U.S. producers should have full access to the Chinese market.  It’s necessary for supporting U.S. jobs, and it’s China’s obligation to allow legitimate access as a member of the World Trade Organization.”

The report also showed that China remains a dominating and growing market for U.S. agriculture. U.S. products accounted for 27 percent of China’s total agricultural imports in 2010, totaling $17.8 billion.

"China is our number one market for US agricultural product exports, but China's unjustified trade barriers are blocking some of our goods such as wheat and beef and hurting job growth in the US," Sen. Baucus said in a news release.

Source: Des Moines Register