Chinese officials have agreed to lift the ban on U.S. pork imports they imposed last spring out of fear of swine flu.

The ban had closed one of the most promising markets for U.S. pork products and was costing the industry millions of dollars a week.

Chinese and U.S. officials said Thursday after negotiations in China that the 6-month-old ban would be lifted.

U.S. officials have tried to debunk the notion that the new H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, can be spread by eating pork products, and Thursday's agreement is a sign of some success.

The announcement could also ease some trade tensions which have been percolating with China. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the decision to lift the ban is an important move forward for both nations.