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Morocco opens its doors to U.S. poultry

Credit: buhanovskiy/iStock/Thinkstock. broiler chickens
Initial estimates indicate that Morocco will be a $10 million market, with additional growth over time.

The government of Morocco has agreed to allow commercial imports of U.S. poultry meat and poultry products into Morocco for the first time, bringing to fruition a 14-year-long effort to gain entry to the market.

The U.S. had entered into a free trade agreement with Morocco in 2004, but a health certificate was never negotiated, so no U.S. poultry entered the market. Extensive negotiations this year involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) and led by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office culminated with the opening of the market, according to poultry groups.

The final step came when Morocco issued a health certificate and the FSIS Export Library was updated.

Morocco is a growing market for further-processed products as well as raw poultry. There will be a duty-free quota of 6,400 metric tons for chicken parts. The quota will increase by 200 metric tons each year until eventually becoming unlimited. Initial estimates indicate that Morocco will be a $10 million market, with additional growth over time.

The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC) applauded the news.

“We’re very pleased, after 14 years since a free trade agreement was signed between our countries, for poultry to finally to have access,” USAPEEC president Jim Sumner said. Sumner noted that while the initial quota for imports is limited, “The good news is that by 2024 for turkey and by 2030 for chicken, we will have full access.”

“The Trump Administration continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products. This new access to the Moroccan market is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. “I welcome Morocco’s agreement to allow imports of U.S. poultry meat and products and the economic opportunities that will be afforded to U.S. producers.”

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue added that opening new markets for American poultry and other agricultural products is a top priority. “I am convinced that when the Moroccan people get a taste of U.S. poultry, they're going to want more of it,” Perdue said. “The products that will be imported into Morocco are safe, wholesome and very delicious. This is also a good harbinger of the kind of relationship that can be developed. We hope there are other things we can cooperate on as USDA works to expand markets around the globe.”

NCC president Mike Brown praised the work by the Administration and added, “This is welcome news, and I commend the Administration for its continued efforts to open markets for U.S. chicken around the world. Producers are very excited about this new market opportunity.”

“What’s really great about this agreement,” Sumner said, is that the U.S. is the only country with duty-free access for chicken. Morocco, being mostly a live bird market, does very little of its own chicken processing. The U.S. will have the opportunity to introduce many further-processed chicken and even turkey products to the Moroccan market. We look forward to working with the Moroccan poultry industry to help grow the consumption of all poultry products, both domestic and foreign.”

The U.S. is the world’s second-largest poultry exporter, with global sales of poultry meat and products of $4.3 billion last year. In May 2018, U.S. exports of agricultural products exceeded $12 billion (latest data available).

More details on requirements for exporting to Morocco are available from the USDA FSIS Export Library at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products/export-library-requirements-by-country/Morocco.

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