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Keeping Markets Open: Successes in Reducing Sanitary and Phytosanitary Barriers to American Exports

On March 30, 2011, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk transmitted to Congress and the President USTR’s second annual report highlighting the Administration’s efforts to confront key sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers that American farmers, ranchers, and producers face when they seek to sell their products around the world. The report demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to keeping global markets open to U.S. agricultural products. Removing foreign trade barriers is a key component of President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Key successes detailed in the report include:

Re-Opening Foreign Markets for U.S. Beef and Beef Products

Chile

Starting in 2003, Chile banned nearly all U.S. beef and beef products following the discovery of a cow that tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”) in the United States. In 2009, the United States and Chile began a series of negotiations under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement to re-open the Chilean market to U.S. beef and beef products. In March 2011, the Administration successfully negotiated a re-opening of the Chilean market to allow the importation of a full range of U.S. beef and beef products based on science and international standards for the safe trade in beef and beef products. U.S. exporters are now positioned to benefit from a Chilean import market for beef and beef products valued at approximately $715 million in 2010.

Egypt

Citing concerns over BSE, Egypt until recently had banned most U.S. beef and beef products, with the exception of some boneless beef and beef products. During 2010, the Administration worked to obtain improved access to the Egyptian market. In January 2011, Egypt agreed to allow the importation of a full range of U.S. beef and beef products based on science and international standards for the safe trade in beef and beef products. Egypt imports nearly $857 million annually in beef and beef products from all sources.

Re-Opening China’s Market for U.S. Swine

In early 2009, China banned U.S. pork, pork products, and live swine due to unwarranted H1N1 influenza concerns. In October 2009, Ambassador Kirk, Secretary Vilsack, and Secretary Locke participated in a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), where China announced its intent to remove its H1N1 ban on pork products. Following that meeting, the United States pressed China to implement its commitment. In March 2010, China agreed to re-open its market to U.S. pork and pork products.

During 2010, the Administration continued to press China to remove the remaining ban on live swine. In March 2011, China agreed to lift its H1N1-related import ban on U.S. swine as a result of an agreement with USDA to conduct H1N1 testing and certification.

In 2008 alone, according to industry sources, the United States exported a record number of live swine to China, and U.S. exports were on pace to set new records in 2009 before the H1N1 outbreak occurred. Prior to the outbreak, U.S. producers had captured around 65 percent of China’s swine imports. The removal of the import ban will present U.S. exporters of live swine with renewed opportunities in this key foreign market.

Re-Opening Foreign Markets to U.S. Poultry and Poultry Products

Colombia

Despite great strides in recent years by both countries with regard to U.S. poultry exports, Colombia continued to block exports of poultry and poultry products from a number of U.S. states due to concerns over avian influenza. In August 2010, after several years of negotiations, the Administration convinced Colombia to lift its import ban, and U.S. producers can now ship a broad variety of poultry and poultry products to Colombia. In 2010, Colombia imported $44 million in poultry and poultry products from around the world.

Ecuador

In 2007 and 2008, Ecuador banned imports of live poultry and poultry products from two major poultry producing states, Arkansas and West Virginia, due to unwarranted concerns over avian influenza. The Administration pressed Ecuador to remove its restrictions, which Ecuador eventually agreed to do in December 2010. In 2010, Ecuador imported $34 million in poultry and poultry products from around the world.

Russia

Citing alleged safety concerns over certain commonly used disinfectants, Russia imposed a ban on the import of U.S. poultry and poultry products in January 2010. USTR and USDA negotiators reached an agreement with Russia that restored shipments to Russia in August 2010. Following the removal of the ban, U.S. poultry exports already had reached about $315 million by year’s end.