Source: National Pork Producers Council
At a recent U.S. Trade Representative hearing, National Pork Producers Council called for Thailand’s preferential access to the U.S. market to be revoked or reduced if it does not end its unwarranted ban on U.S. pork.
Thailand is a top beneficiary of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences program, which gives duty-free treatment to certain goods entering the United States. The program allows for removal of a country’s benefits if it fails to provide the United States “equitable and reasonable access” to its market. U.S. imports of Thai agricultural products under the GSP program totaled $832 million in 2017. The U.S. GSP program has made a significant contribution to an overall Thai surplus of $617 million in agricultural trade with the United States.
“Thailand takes full advantage of special U.S. trade benefits, contributing significantly to its large trade surplus with the United States,” testified Maria Zieba, NPPC’s director of international affairs. “It does so while imposing a completely unjustified virtual ban on imports of U.S. pork. President Trump has called for reciprocity in our trading relationship with other countries, but there is no reciprocity at all in our trading relationship with Thailand when it comes to pork.”
Thailand places many restrictions on U.S. pork including a ban on pork produced with ractopamine, a feed ingredient approved for use after numerous scientific assessments by world health organizations declared it safe. It also does not import uncooked pork and pork offal from the United States, even though it imports these products from other international suppliers. Other obstacles include excessive import permit fees and high tariffs on agricultural products.
U.S. pork producers currently face retaliatory tariffs in key export markets, such as China and Mexico, at a time of peak production levels. It’s critical that new export markets are opened for U.S. pork and other agriculture sectors.
“The United States ships safe, wholesome and competitively priced pork to more than 100 countries around the world,” said Zieba. “There is no legitimate reason for Thailand to maintain its de facto ban on U.S. pork.”
Following an NPPC petition, the USTR in May agreed to review Thailand’s eligibility for the U.S. GSP program. A letter signed by more than 40 members of the House of Representatives was also sent to Thailand’s ambassador to the United States, calling for the removal of restrictions on imports of U.S. farm products, including pork.
A briefing detailing the NPPC’s position on Thailand’s GSP benefits is available here.