Expanding U.S. export markets is vital to the success of American pork producers, but trade disputes with some of our top markets, most notably China, are hampering growth and have caused severe financial harm to U.S. hog farmers, National Pork Producers Council Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano said today at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.
“Mostly because of free trade agreements, the United States is the leading global exporter of pork. As a result, U.S. pork is an attractive candidate for trade retaliation. America’s hog farmers – and many other sectors of U.S. agriculture – have been at the tip of the trade retaliation spear for more than a year,” Giordano explained to the briefing at the National Press Club.
While Mexico’s 20 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork was recently lifted, America’s producers still face a stifling 62 percent tariff into China. There are enormous trade opportunities with China, especially to help offset reduced domestic production due to African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease with no vaccine treatment that poses no human health or food safety risks, but that is almost always fatal for hogs, Giordano noted. ASF has spread to every province in China, other parts of Asia and in Europe.
Giordano said NPPC is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection to strengthen biosecurity at our borders and on our farms to prevent its spread to the United States.
“We have always known that China holds more potential than any market in the world for increased U.S. pork sales. But, today, because of African swine fever, that potential is off the charts, offering the single greatest sales opportunity in our industry’s history,” said Giordano. “China needs reliable suppliers of pork now, and likely, well into the future. The question U.S. hog farmers are asking: ‘Will we get the main course, or will we get the crumbs off the table?'”
“For most of the last year, the U.S. pork industry has the dubious distinction of being on three retaliation lists: China and Mexico related to U.S. actions under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and China in response to U.S. tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974,” Giordano said. Last year, Mexico was the industry’s largest volume market and China was the third top market by volume, although punitive tariffs imposed by those two countries have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion over the last year.
“U.S. pork production costs are among the lowest in the world with safety and quality that are second to none. But for the retaliatory duties, the United States would be in a perfect position to take advantage of this massive import surge in the world’s largest pork-consuming nation and single handedly put a huge dent in the U.S. trade imbalance with China,” Giordano said. Instead, Chinese pork buyers are reaching out to those in Europe, Canada and Brazil for supplies. “What should have been a time of enormous prosperity and growth for U.S. pork producers and their suppliers will instead fuel jobs, profits and rural development for our competitors,” he noted.
“U.S. hog farmers understand the challenges faced by this administration in recalibrating U.S. trade policy toward China. The issues are myriad and complex. Moreover, hog farmers appreciate the farmer aid packages that the administration has put forward,” Giordano continued. “However, the China pork tariff needs to be lifted.”
Giordano’s full remarks can be read here.