Breaking trade barriers: obstacles and progress in China [Video]

Gina Tumbarello, AFIA’s senior director of global strategies, policy and trade, shares her role in developing a facility registry with China, expanding opportunities for US feed products.

Elise Schafer headshot Headshot

Transcription of Feed & Grain Chat with Gina Tumbarello, senior director of global strategies, policy and trade for the American Feed Industry Association

Elise Schafer, editor of Feed & Grain: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Feed & Grain Chat. I'm your host Elise Schafer, editor of Feed & Grain. This edition of Feed & Grain Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and is your source for the latest news, product and equipment information for the grain handling and feed manufacturing industries.

Today, I'm joined on Zoom by Gina Tumbarello, senior director of global strategies, policy and trade for the American Feed Industry Association. She's here today to discuss trade relations with China. Hi, Gina. Thanks for joining me!

Tumbarello: Thanks for having me.

Schafer: Great, now, let's get right into it! Can you share what started your self-described obsession with China and its international trade policies 12 years ago?

Tumbarello: Self-described, yes, definitely self-described obsession. But I will honestly say most staff that I work with would probably agree with me. My exposure to China started really shortly after I started at AFIA, roughly 12 years ago, when I came into AFIA, and I really just wanted to do as much as I could to get the market open in China for our members. But it became apparent that there were a lot of roadblocks.

And the primary roadblock was this new requirement for facility registration for feed products. And that's when it started, I took that as a personal challenge and mission to get that figured out. It sounded a lot easier at the time, but it turned out being pretty much a 12-year process. So that's kind of how it started.

Schafer: So what progress has been made since then with China's approved feed products list and what's still unresolved from your point of view?

Tumbarello: What we have now is a wonderful solution to what was originally a lack of a process for getting facilities registered. And so the main challenge we had was with the feed additive, premix and compound feed products — which is a pretty significant portion of the feed industry — and there was a requirement put in place, but there was no mechanism for getting facilities registered. So that was where my challenge started and trying to address how do we establish a process because it's not just on the US side, it's on also the Chinese side of them accepting what process is put in place, and working with them to define it, 

A lot of those challenges we were faced with just the ongoing relationship we had with China and the constant changing developments with politics with them and the tariff war that came into effect and stalled the process, and then being part of the discussions on the US-China Phase 1 agreement with USTR that really is what solidified finding a solution and working with the Chinese. So we were able to establish a process for US feed additive, compound and premix facilities get registered.

 Initially starting with working with the Food and Drug Administration, and that was a good step that we made, and most recently, we have switched that over to the Agricultural Marketing Service, which is part of USDA, and that has really allowed us to hit some of the gaps that we couldn't hit under the Food and Drug Administration. So, facilities that want to update their current registration because their company name has changed or their product name has changed, we now have a process to address those type of challenges.

We also now have a process to address facilities that have products that are exempt from product registration in China and being able to get those facilities and those products on the list even though they aren't registered in China because they're exempt, so, we've really made a lot of progress. We've made significant headway in getting new facilities on, but also addressing those challenges where facilities couldn't export anymore because they needed to update their facility listing.

I would say right now we don't really have any challenges anymore with the facility registration. We've hit all of those benchmarks and goals of addressing it, and now it's making sure that we continue to keep that market open. And AFIA’s role here is also demonstrating the value of the feed additives and premix and compound feed products that the US has to offer, and that's a whole other challenge, but now we at least know that we can get the product in if we have the products, so making sure that the demand continues to be there on the other end.

Schafer: Well, that's wonderful progress. Now, what other issues are you focusing on to help expand trade opportunities in China for US feed products?

Tumbarello: With the facility registration process being taken care of right now — resolved — the reason why we see China as such a huge opportunity for our industry is because China, in the last 10, 15, 20 years — depending on how you look at it — has really been looking for a way for them to be more self-sufficient in their livestock and animal protein production. And part of that is an opportunity for our industry on the feed additives. What are the products that we can help them be more efficient, get more return on their inputs and help them reach their goals of more self sufficiency that they continue to be looking for.

So, part of what we've been doing is providing some education through some marketing and trade materials and trade articles within China regarding the value of feed additives, specifically in what they offer. China right now has a ban on antibiotics for using feed for preventive measures, and so right now they're looking for solutions to maintain the health of their animals when they don't have antibiotics as a tool. So, demonstrating through expertise and research materials of what those type of products can be to solve some of those problems has been really key to that messaging.

Schafer: Well, Gina, thank you so much for your insights today.

Tumbarello: Thank you for having me.

Schafer: That's all for today’s Feed & Grain Chat. If you'd like to see more videos like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel, sign up for the Industry Watch Daily eNewsletter, or go to and search for videos. Thank you again for joining and we hope to see you next time!