U.S. red meat exports to Guatemala recorded their best year ever in 2014, with both pork exports at $41.1 million and beef exports at $25 million setting new value records. The Guatemalan market has continued to perform well this year, with pork exports (through February) running 35% ahead of their 2014 pace and beef export value increasing 11%.
Gerardo Rodriguez, U.S. Meat Export Federation director of trade development for Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that pork once had an unfavorable reputation with Guatemalan consumers, so U.S. exports were mostly limited to raw material for further processing. But because of the USMEF’s educational and promotional efforts, consumers are now more knowledgeable about the safety and quality of U.S. pork, which has opened many new opportunities in Guatemala’s retail and foodservice sectors.
U.S. beef exports continue to benefit from the gradual tariff rate reductions included in the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement. When CAFTA came into force in Guatemala in 2006, tariffs were immediately eliminated for Choice and Prime beef cuts, but not for Select-or-lower cuts. These items were subject to a 15% tariff that was to be gradually reduced to zero by 2020 through an annual tariff rate reduction of one percentage point and an expanding duty-free tariff rate quota. In 2015, the duty-free TRQ for Select-or-lower beef has grown to 1,600 metric tons and the out-of-quota tariff rate has been reduced to just 4%. This lowers the cost of Select-grade beef for Guatemalan importers, allowing them to market these cuts to a wider range of customers.