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Trade news offers some optimism for pork producers

News on the trade front is getting better for U.S. pork producers as the Trump administration announced it wants to negotiate trade agreements with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom. The National Pork Producers Council commended the administration for its ambitious trade agenda.

The administration recently updated agreements with Canada and Mexico and with South Korea that maintained the U.S. pork industry’s zero-tariff access to those important markets, three of the top five destinations for U.S. pork exports.

“We’ve got the momentum on trade headed in the right direction now,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “Producers are hurting because of retaliatory tariffs on pork, which were prompted by the administration’s efforts to realign U.S. trade policy. But producers have been patient, and now that patience is starting to pay off, particularly if we get a trade deal with Japan.”

Since Trump took office in January 2017, NPPC has been urging the White House to begin trade talks with countries in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, beginning with Japan, the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market. It also has called for deals with the Philippines and Vietnam.

NPPC also has been supportive of trade negotiations with the United Kingdom, provided that the U.K. is willing to eliminate all non-tariff barriers and embrace U.N. food-safety standards and other international standards.

“NPPC will not support a deal with the U.K. unless it agrees to equivalence, meaning that all USDA-approved pork and pork products must be eligible for export to the U.K. without additional requirements,” Heimerl said.
And while the organization is open to trade negotiations with the U.K., it is skeptical about EU intentions.

“The EU has played the United States like a drum in the past,” Heimerl said. “This must stop. We expect the Trump administration to require the EU to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork so we can export with no additional requirements.”

While the trade news is good for U.S. pork producers, NPPC is continuing to press the Trump administration to resolve trade disputes with China and Mexico, including dropping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the latter. Both countries imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork in response to the U.S. metals duties.

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