The U.S. pork industry ships more product to the 20 countries covered by free trade agreements than it does the rest of the world combined. Therefore, expanding export opportunities through trade agreements remains a top priority for U.S. pork producers, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) director of international affairs Maria Zieba said this week at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.
NPPC was very pleased this week when the U.S. and Japan signed a trade agreement, which will return U.S. pork to a level playing field in one of its most important export markets. With a trade deal in place with Japan, NPPC is focusing on trade agreements with numerous other countries, Zieba said at the NPPC-sponsored event held at the National Press Club.
One of NPPC's most pressing priorities is rapid congressional ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to secure long-term, zero-duty access to two of its largest export markets, Zieba explained. Last year, more than 40% of U.S. pork exports went to Canada and Mexico. USMCA will strengthen the strong economic ties with our North American neighbors and ensure tariff-free trade with the two countries, Zieba added.
Unfortunately, the trade situation with China remains frustrating, Zieba said. The trade dispute with China has cost U.S. pork producers $8 per animal, or $1 billion on an annualized basis. "While recent Chinese media reports have suggested tariff relief for U.S. pork, we need to remove market access uncertainty and gain permanent, competitive access to China," she said.
Even with the tariffs in place, U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong have been rapidly rising as the result of the African swine fever epidemic. In fact, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said exports to China/Hong Kong contributed greatly to setting volume and value export records in July, with export volume reaching a record 68,657 metric tons during the month, more than triple the levels of a year ago, while value climbed 173% to a record $152.5 million. For January through July, exports to China/Hong Kong were up 23% in volume (292,666 mt) and 3% in value ($580.3 million).
“China’s hog prices soared to record levels in August, and retail pork and poultry prices are also trending sharply higher as China’s African swine fever-related hog shortage intensifies,” USMEF noted.
Overall, U.S. pork producers are seeking the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers in a variety of other export markets that promise significant growth opportunities, Zieba said. For instance, a trade deal with India, the second most-populous nation in the world, would provide a tremendous opportunity for U.S. producers to provide safe, wholesome and nutritious pork products to consumers in that country.
NPPC is also working to expand other export markets as well, including Jamaica, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.
"Pork is one of our country's most competitive export products, and we will continue to fight for the chance to meet the rising global demand for the world's most popular protein," Zieba concluded.