US dairy group partners with China university to boost trade opportunities

US Dairy Export Council signs deal with Jiangnan University to build food science research centre

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 2:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 9:12pm

A US dairy trade export group has partnered with a Chinese university to create a food science research centre in the hope of bolstering relations and expanding dairy exports from the United States to China.

The US Dairy Export Council said it signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday with Jiangnan University, in the city of Wuxi, near Shanghai, to build the US-China Dairy Innovation Centre at the school.

The tie-up is occurring amid rising trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, as the administration of President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs targeting Chinese products including solar panels, steel and aluminium. Concerns that China would target US agricultural products in retaliation were borne out when China announced extra duties on US foodstuffs earlier on Monday.

China said the extra duties of up to 25 per cent would affect 128 US products including frozen pork, wine, fruits and nuts.

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Still, the announcement between the dairy council and Jiangnan highlights the interconnectedness of the two economies, even as the trade dispute escalates.

In addition to the creation of the food science centre, the agreement aims to boost the development of food products for Chinese consumers that use US dairy as ingredients, help US dairy exporters better understand how to work with Chinese food manufacturers, and bolster Chinese students’ academic research into dairy.

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The agreement was the latest effort to boost business with China, the council’s president Tom Vilsack said, adding that last year it signed a deal on US dairy plant registration and a unilateral reduction in Chinese cheese tariffs.

“Asia generally is very important to the US dairy industry, and we need to build these long-term relationships,” said the former secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration.

Mainland China and Hong Kong combined was the third-largest export market for US dairy products last year, behind Mexico and Canada. US dairy exports worldwide reached US$5.48 billion in 2017, up 14 per cent from 2016, according to government and trade data.