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American food and agriculture exporters are at the forefront of efforts to double U.S. exports by 2014 with food and agricultural exports increasing 18 percent in 2011. Too often, however, governments conceal discriminatory and unjustified trade measures in the guise of ensuring human, animal, or plant safety.
Today, April 2, 2012, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk transmitted to Congress and the President USTR’s third annual Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Barriers to Trade, which highlights the Administration’s efforts to confront key sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers that American farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses face when selling their products around the world. These SPS barriers not only harm U.S. exports, they also deprive consumers around the world of access to high-quality American food and agricultural goods.
The most effective way to keep markets open to American food and agricultural products is to stop unwarranted barriers from arising in the first place. The Administration, therefore, makes it a top priority, investing significant resources to prevent such barriers from occurring. In addition, in 2011, key successes in removing barriers to exports of American food and agricultural products include the following:
Expanded Market Opportunities for Beef
The Administration successfully pressed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to remove the unwarranted import restrictions on U.S. beef and beef products due to concerns that U.S. beef could transmit bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). As a result of the Administration’s efforts, the UAE reopened its markets to the full range of beef and beef products, regardless of age, consistent with scientific principles and international standards.
Re-Opening Foreign Markets to American Poultry and Poultry Products
During 2011, the Administration successfully urged China, Egypt, Ghana, Kuwait, and Taiwan to lift unwarranted import restrictions on U.S. poultry and poultry products. As a result of the Administration’s efforts, each of these countries took significant steps to reopen its market to U.S. poultry:
• China lifted its ban on imports of poultry and poultry products from Pennsylvania and Texas, which it had imposed on grounds that these products allegedly could transmit avian influenza (AI).
• Ghana stopped requiring U.S. poultry producers to test their products for polychlorinated biphenyl and dioxin, based on information the Administration shared with Ghanaian officials, including on the U.S. testing and sampling program for these contaminants.
• Kuwait lifted its ban on live fowl, hatching eggs, and one‐day old chicks from Missouri and Minnesota that it had imposed after low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) was detected in these states. In January 2012, Kuwait also lifted its AI-related ban on imports of frozen and chilled poultry from the United States.
• Taiwan removed unwarranted import restrictions it had imposed on U.S. poultry due to concerns over high-pathogenic AI. The United States and Taiwan also reached an agreement on the conditions under which Taiwan may temporarily suspend poultry imports from the United States in response to LPAI outbreaks. These efforts resulted in the removal in January 2012 of an LPAI-based poultry import suspension Taiwan had imposed.
Exports of American Cherries, Citrus and Blueberries to Korea
Korea removed restrictive import measures that are critical for ensuring the continued flow of U.S. cherries and citrus exports. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked closely with Korean officials to identify acceptable pesticide residue levels that do not pose a health risk. The new pesticide tolerances removed potential risk of pesticide residue violations for the U.S. cherry and citrus industries that are costly to suppliers of perishable products due to Korea’s restrictive import sanction policy. In addition, after close collaboration with USDA, Korea adopted new import measures for U.S. blueberries authorizing access in time for the 2012 American growing season.
Science Based Pesticide Standards in Japan
The Administration worked successfully with Japan to identify acceptable levels of certain pesticides on U.S. citrus, strawberries, cherries, and celery. The Administration’s efforts included extensive coordination and data sharing with Japanese regulatory authorities. As a result, Japan has set residue levels for these pesticides that will help increase exports of U.S. citrus, strawberries, cherries, and celery to Japan.
Global Food Safety Fund
At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in November, 2011, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed the news that an innovative public private partnership has pledged $1 million for the creation of the world’s first Global Food Safety Fund for capacity building. To be managed by the World Bank, the proposed fund will leverage the tripartite approach pioneered in APEC that enlists a wide range of stakeholders in training programs designed to enhance food safety and to facilitate trade. These programs will enable more growers, more producers, and more food safety officials to understand and utilize preventive controls – resulting in safer food for consumers, and fewer safety incidents in food trade.