U.S. beef arrives in recently reopened South African market

Two years of intense discussions led to agreement for U.S. beef, pork and poultry products in South Africa.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that the first shipment of U.S. beef recently arrived in South Africa following the reopening of the South African market earlier this year.

"The arrival of U.S. beef in South Africa represents another important milestone in efforts by USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to regain access to this important market," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. "Along with U.S. poultry, South African consumers now have access to high-quality, safe and wholesome U.S. beef, and U.S. producers and exporters have gained another valuable market for their products."

On Jan. 7, 2016, after more than two years of intense discussions, the U.S. and the Republic of South Africa concluded an agreement on sanitary barriers and related health certificates for U.S. beef, pork and poultry products exported to South Africa. The South African market previously had been closed to U.S. poultry since 2000, beef since 2003 and pork since 2013. With the removal of the barriers, U.S. exports of meat to South Africa could reach $75 million annually, USDA said.

The U.S. began shipping poultry to South Africa earlier this year under the terms of the agreement. As a result, U.S. poultry exports to South Africa totaled almost 12,000 metric tons, worth $7.2 million, in the first quarter of 2016.

“The Obama Administration has worked aggressively to expand markets for American-made goods, including agricultural products. Six of the past seven years have represented the strongest period for American agricultural exports in the history of our country, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $919.6 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2015,” USDA said. In fiscal 2015, U.S. farmers and ranchers exported $139.7 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide.

USDA also worked with trading partners last year to eliminate all remaining animal health barriers related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) for U.S. export markets. Fourteen countries removed their BSE restrictions and granted access to U.S. beef and beef products, including Australia, Macau, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore, Ukraine, Vietnam, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Costa Rica, Guatemala, St. Lucia and Iraq. The total value of U.S. beef and beef products exported to those 14 countries that lifted their BSE restrictions is in excess of $180 million.

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