Russian markets could re-open for U.S. pork

Russia has indicated that it plans to end the ban on imports of U.S. pork products by mid-March and possibly as soon as the end of February, according to Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service (VPSS).

Last year, Russia implemented a ban on imports of U.S. pork and beef that are produced with beta-agonists. Russia began requiring pork imports from the United States to show documentation that the pork does not contain ractopamine residues. The country also restricted U.S. pork imports through unscientific standards for tetracyclines and pathogens on raw product, standards that no country in the world can meet. The U.S. government, with NPPC and meat industry input, has been working to develop a commercial option for U.S. exporters to ensure beta-agonist-free pork for Russia. NPPC continues to work closely with other industry partners and the U.S. government to ensure Russia abides by World Trade Organization rules and reopens its market to U.S. pork. However, until Russia and the United States come to an agreement on how to meet Russia’s unscientific requirements, U.S. exports to Russia are at a standstill. As a result of the ban on U.S. pork, exports to Russia in 2013 decreased 93%. In 2012, U.S. pork exports to Russia totaled $267 million.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released full-year export data, showing the U.S. pork industry shipped $6.1 billion, or about 2.14 million metric tons, of pork in 2013. Exports decreased by 4.3% in value and 5.2% in quantity compared with 2012 exports. Japan again was the No. 1 export market for U.S. pork, valued at $1.89 billion. Exports to NAFTA partner Mexico increased by more than 8.3% in value last year, totaling $1.2 billion in pork export sales. The Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) continues to be a great success for U.S. pork exports as tariff phase-outs continue. U.S. pork exports rose by 14.7% in value to participating DR-CAFTA partners last year and are expected to continue to increase. Two DR-CAFTA partners, the Dominican Republic and Honduras, saw significant growth in 2013, with value exports growing by 20.7% and 13.4%, respectively. Both markets account for nearly $100 million in annual U.S. pork exports. Separate free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama were implemented in 2012, and the value of pork exports to those countries in 2013 increased by 204.5% and 57%, respectively. Exports to China/Hong Kong grew 2.1% in volume on sales of nearly $1 billion.

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