The United States moved one step closer toward resuming its beef export to China after the country's agricultural department said trade rules have been finalized.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday that the country has reached agreements with China on final details of a protocol to allow it to export beef to China.
As part of the U.S.-China 100-day action plan to boost bilateral economic cooperation, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump "has taken important steps toward commercial shipment of U.S. beef and beef products to China for the first time since 2003," the department said.
"Today is a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement.
"As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a separate statement.
China imposed a ban on U.S. beef in December 2003 after mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found in U.S. cattle. Before the ban, the United States was China's largest supplier of imported beef.
Beef destined for China must be sourced from cattle that were born, raised and slaughtered in the United States, or animals that were imported from Canada and Mexico before being slaughtered domestically, according to the agricultural department.
Cattle must be traceable either to their birth farm or, if initially imported into the United States, to the first place of residence or port of entry, the department said on its website.
U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) also hailed the agreement on beef exports, a top priority for the association over the past decade.
"This would give us the opportunity to grow. All trade is important, but working with China will be a huge benefit to the U.S. beef industry," said Craig Uden, president of the NCBA.
In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef, Uden said.
"We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China," he added.
During a meeting at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in April, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump agreed to establish a comprehensive economic dialogue and initiate a 100-day plan to boost bilateral economic cooperation.
Also in April, during a telephone talk with Trump, Xi stressed that both sides should advance the implementation of the 100-day plan on economic cooperation through high-level dialogue mechanisms.
Last month, the two sides announced the initial results of the 100-day action plan, which covers such areas as agriculture, financial services, investment and energy.
As the first results of the action plan, China will allow a resumption in imports of U.S. beef, and the United States is to import poultry from China. Most of the agreements are expected to be implemented by July 16.