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Bolivia now open to U.S. red meat

Certificate negotiations took place over past five years after Bolivia visited U.S.

Bolivia is the latest nation to open its market to U.S. red meat, which is the result of a long-standing effort by U.S. trade and agricultural officials to improve access for U.S. meat products throughout South America, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“We are excited about this market opening. Bolivia is one of the last markets in South America where we didn’t have a formalized agreement on export certificates,” USMEF director of export services Cheyenne McEndaffer said. “With the exception of beef to Venezuela and pork to Brazil, the continent is open to most beef and pork products now.”

She relayed that officials from Bolivia visited the U.S. five years ago as part of their process to recognize the U.S. food safety system as equivalent.

“Following that visit, certificate negotiations happened on and off through the years. Domestic political receptiveness plus continued pressure from [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] recently helped formally open the market to red meat,” she added.

While the region is now mostly open to U.S. pork and beef, McEndaffer noted that Bolivia, like several other South American countries, has plant and product registration requirements that must still be finalized before U.S. exporters can begin shipping to the market.

“We have provided our initial comments on the registration process to USDA, and we’ll continue to work with them as government-to-government discussions continue,” she said.

While Bolivia is not a high-volume destination for imported meat, McEndaffer said there are already some inquiries from interested buyers. Bolivia's import duties are relatively low -- at 10% for most muscle cuts and variety meat and 10-20% for processed products -- which should help U.S. products gain traction in the market, she added.

Last year, Bolivia reported beef imports of 1,831 metric tons, mainly from Brazil as well as small volumes from Argentina. Imports were valued at $2.6 million. Pork imports, which were almost entirely from Brazil, totaled 443 metric tons at a value of about $1 million.

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