EU Pork Industry Faces Significant Losses Amid China’s Anti-Dumping Probe

The EU pork industry is bracing for substantial losses as China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced an anti-dumping investigation into certain pork and pig by-products originating from the EU, responding to a request from the Chinese domestic industry.

Industry expert Ma, speaking to the Global Times, emphasized the urgency for the EU to swiftly adapt to avoid severe repercussions for the European pork farming sector. “If pig by-products become difficult to export to China, European producers will struggle to find an alternative market large enough to absorb these products, impacting EU pig prices and further affecting European farming. Recovery from such an impact will be challenging,” Ma stated.

Interporc, Spain’s pork export association, pledged full cooperation with the Chinese authorities, highlighting the time available for the EU and China to reach agreements. “The pork sector advocates for a trade understanding between the EU and China,” Interporc expressed in a press release.

Anne Richard, director of Inaporc, France’s pork exporter association, told Politico, “We are currently in the phase of determining what questions will be asked and how we need to respond.”

Ksenija Simovic, senior policy adviser for trade at Copa-Cogeca, Europe’s largest farmer lobby, remarked, “This is, of course, not acceptable for us. The European Commission (EC) should ensure that our sector does not bear the burden for disputes involving other sectors.”

The EC announced that temporary tariffs on imports of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) would take effect on July 4. Ulrik Bremholm, chairman of the trade association Danske Slagterier, part of the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, urged all parties to consider the implications for jobs, food security, and production, seeking a resolution before the July 4 deadline, according to a Reuters report.

Cui Hongjian, a professor at the Academy of Regional and Global Governance at Beijing Foreign Studies University, indicated the need to investigate the pricing factors of EU pork exports to China, which have significantly increased since 2023, in accordance with WTO rules.

Chinese analysts underscored that MOFCOM’s investigation was initiated at the request of the domestic industry and aligns with WTO rules, contrasting with the EC’s move, which they claim lacked industry application and fairness, potentially violating WTO regulations.

Dong Yifan, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, stated that China’s anti-dumping investigation is open, transparent, and conducted according to relevant domestic laws to protect domestic industries’ legitimate interests, in line with WTO rules.

In 2023, China imported approximately $3.5 billion worth of pork, with half coming from the EU. Spain exported $865.3 million worth of pork to China, accounting for about 25% of China’s total pork imports, while Denmark exported $288.9 million, accounting for 8.3%, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC). The Netherlands and France’s pork exports to China totaled $267.3 million and $152.8 million, respectively.

Industry insiders noted that China imports pig by-products from the EU, including ears, noses, feet, and other parts. Losing these exports would significantly impact the European pork industry. “If European exporters are affected, other global exporters like Brazil, Canada, the US, and Russia are ready to capture their market share,” Ma added.

China is broadening its pork import sources, recently permitting imports of Russian pork that meet relevant requirements. So far in 2024, 18 countries have exported pork products to China.

Analysts stress that China-EU economic and trade relations should be mutually beneficial, calling on the EU to engage in rational dialogue to resolve issues. “We hope the EU will respect basic economic laws and WTO rules, heed the EU industry’s appeal, correct its wrong practices, and return to open cooperation and green development soon,” said Li Chao, spokesperson for the National Development and Reform Commission, during a press conference.