U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced the government of Argentina has finalized technical requirements that will allow U.S. pork to be imported into Argentina for the first time since 1992. A move that was strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation.
“Argentina has tremendous potential for U.S. pork exports,” says NPPC president Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This is great news for America’s pork producers, who last year exported almost $6.5 billion of pork around the world.”
Argentina, which had a de facto ban on U.S. pork, has a population of more than 44 million and a per capita income of $17,250 — higher than Mexico’s — making it an attractive market for U.S. pork. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes has noted that fresh pork consumption in the country has increased from about 2 pounds in 2005 to 22 to 26 pounds today. The Argentine pork industry estimates that by 2020 consumption will increase to 35 to 44 pounds.
“U.S. pork exports have achieved excellent growth in South America in recent years, with most of the volume destined for Colombia, Chile and Peru. U.S. pork is also eligible for export to Ecuador and Uruguay, and recently gained access to Paraguay. Expanding the range of export opportunities for U.S. red meat is especially important at a time of increased uncertainty in some of our leading markets. Argentina is an exciting addition with solid growth potential, and USMEF thanks USTR and USDA for their steadfast efforts to regain access to the Argentine market,” says USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom.
According to the USDA estimates, Argentina’s per capita pork consumption is rapidly growing, increasing nearly 60% since 2011. As the third-largest pork-importing country in South America, an opening market for the first time in 25 years could be a potential $10 million-a-year market for U.S. pork producers.
Since the White House announced an agreement with Argentina last August, technical staff from the USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative have been working with Argentina’s Ministry of Agro-Industry on new terms for market access that are practical, science-based and consistent with relevant international animal health standards. The finalization of these technical requirements means that U.S. exports of pork and natural swine casings can now resume.
“This breakthrough is the result of efforts by this administration to help America’s farmers and ranchers reach new markets and ensure fair trade practices by our international partners,” Perdue says. “Once the people of Argentina get a taste of American pork products after all this time, we’re sure they’ll want more of it. This is a great day for our agriculture community and an example of how the Trump administration is committed to supporting our producers by opening new markets for their products.”
NPPC helped the USDA address concerns raised by Argentine officials, and in October, the organization urged the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to reinstate Argentina’s eligibility for the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, which allows some foreign products into the United States without tariffs, after the country in August agreed to re-open its market to U.S. pork imports. The export certificate allows the shipment of fresh, frozen and processed pork to the South American country.
“This development demonstrates the Argentine government’s commitment to expanded and more open trade with the United States,” says Heimerl. “And it will help us grow our exports, which the U.S. pork industry is very dependent on. Last year’s exports, for example, added more than $53 — representing almost 36% of the $149 average value of a hog in 2017 — to the price we received for each animal marketed.
“The United States can’t sit on its hands when it comes to trade. Opening new markets, such as Argentina, and expanding existing markets is imperative.”
Sources: National Pork Producers Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation and USDA