WASHINGTON (B)--A delegation of about 50 U.S. pork producers is scheduled to arrive at the White House on Sept. 7 to air their concerns on trade issues, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council said Aug. 31.

Members of the visiting delegation are slated to meet with both White House and USDA officials, but they are hoping that President Bill Clinton or Vice President Al Gore will take part in the meeting even though neither is scheduled to do so, NPPC spokesman Steven Cohen said.

The producers' main concerns are opening up trade with such countries as China and Argentina, Cohen said.

Argentina is in the later stages of a review that could open the country's borders to pork exports from the United States. Currently Canada dominates Argentina's market for imported pork.

Cohen said NPPC is also trying to arrange a meeting between its visiting members and trade officials with Argentina's embassy in Washington, but nothing has been confirmed.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations status to China, effectively giving its approval for the nation's accession to the World Trade Organization on May 24. The Senate is expected to do so as well in September. China has already lowered border restrictions that kept U.S. meat exports at bay, but analysts don't expect any major trade to begin until after the United States officially votes China into the WTO.

In return for PNTR, China has promised to drop import tariffs significantly over a 4-year period on pork and beef.

According to a recent USDA attache report from Beijing, pork is the largest source of protein for the Chinese. The report calls China the world's largest pork producer, but also forecasts 2001 imports to total 130,000 tons, an increase over 120,000 tons in 2000.

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