In comments submitted last night, the National Pork Producers Council asked the Obama administration to withdraw, or at least limit, preferential trade benefits for South Africa because of that country’s reluctance to provide market access to U.S. pork.
“South Africa has shown that it is pleased to take advantage of U.S. preferential trade programs but is unwilling to extend even customary equitable treatment to imports of pork from the United States,” the NPPC says in comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
South Africa gets duty-free access to the U.S. market for dozens of its products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Generalized System of Preferences. In 2014, it shipped $1.7 billion of goods to the United States under AGOA and $1.3 billion under the GSP program.
The NPPC noted that South Africa enforces “harsh and unjustifiable” import restrictions on U.S. pork to prevent diseases for which there is a negligible risk of transmission from U.S. pork products. The South African Ministry of Agriculture, for example, imposes time and temperature requirements on U.S. pork as mitigation for trichinae, which is nearly non-existent in the U.S. commercial hog herd.
The organization pointed out that the USDA has offered to certify that pork exported to South Africa would only come from farms participating in the U.S. pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which includes biosecurity measures to prevent exposure of pigs to sources of trichinae. Although the certification has been accepted by a number of other countries, it has been rejected by South Africa.
South Africa is maintaining trade barriers, the NPPC says, despite overwhelming evidence that they are unsupported by international standards or any legitimate scientific or World Trade Organization-legal justification and is making no effort to lift them.
“We have undertaken efforts to accommodate South African demands even though we know and its officials know that they are unnecessary,” the NPPC says. “We have done this with enormous trepidation because of the risk that other countries will see the South African approach as a model for how to restrict imports without raising tariffs. But it is time to draw the line.
“We believe that South Africa’s eligibility for benefits under AGOA should be withdrawn,” the NPPC concludes.