USDA Secretary Mike Johanns states, "We are extremely pleased with the reopening of another important market for U.S. beef exports and we anticipate that trade will quickly begin. I applaud the Hong Kong government for making trade decisions based on internationally accepted scientific standards. This is one more step toward normalized international beef trade that will also help further the close bilateral trade relationship of the United States and Hong Kong.
"The agreement announced today will allow the United States to export boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age to Hong Kong under the Beef Export Verification Program. This agreement follows Hong Kong's determination that U.S. control measures effectively ensure the safety of our beef. USDA has worked closely with Hong Kong and others around the world to remove restrictions on imports of U.S. beef.
"In 2003, the United States exported $90 million worth of beef and beef products to Hong Kong. It was the fifth largest market for U.S. beef products so today's announcement is welcome news for our producers. Since the closing of many U.S. export markets in December 2003, the United States has recovered access to markets valued at more than $2.8 billion, or 74 percent of the 2003 export value of $3.9 billion. USDA will continue to focus our efforts on opening additional markets in Asia and around the world by promoting the use of science-based regulations in global beef trade."