According to the trade text, the USDA and China will sign and implement phytosanitary protocol allowing American fresh potato imports into China for processing. The signing ceremony was essentially a commitment to open the market by February 24th. While the potato industry is happy with the language, they understand it’s not a done deal at this point. Matt Lantz, Vice President of Global Access at Bryant Christie, said now, market access protocol must be created.
“Now that we see this language in here, we anticipate that we will have a Chinese response to that and then we will have to go through that response and make sure that the market access agreement is viable for shipping,” Lantz said. “We need to make sure that what’s being asked of our growers and shippers is viable and commercially viable to do that. And so we anticipate that there will be a final round of negotiations in the coming two-three weeks.”
Lantz said the hope is to have the language polished up right after the Chinese New Year, sign it and have the market open by the end of next month. The provision is specific to chipping potatoes grown here in the Northwest.
Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern said once established, access could expand across the U.S.
“We’ll still be able to benefit from this in the perspective that more chipping potatoes from the Northwest will be going across the water and there’ll be further demand for their potatoes within the United States. That’s what always happens in these situations does that we see a movement of potatoes out of the U.S. and then other areas are able to backfill in and meet the demand within the U.S.”
The hope is the remaining discussions will prove successful.
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