Argentina regains US market access after 17 years


by James Nason, Beef Central (Australia) 

30 November 2018


ARGENTINA is set to regain access for its beef into the United States for the first time in almost two decades years after proving its sanitary credentials to the USDA.


Argentina lost access to the US market in 2001 following a foot and mouth disease outbreak. It says the disease has since eliminated from its livestock herd through vaccination programs, and in 2012 Argentina launched a challenge against the US ban through the World Trade Organisation.


Argentina international trade secretary, Marisa Bircher, told the Reuters news agency this week that all technical and administrative issues preventing Argentinean access to the US have now been resolved, and the USDA has deemed Argentine beef to be in line with US sanitation requirements.


She said that had paved the way for a two-way trade deal between the two nations that will allow Argentina to export up to 20,000 tonnes of beef to the United States annually (similar to the quota of fellow South American beef supplier Uruguay), and will allow the US to export beef to Argentina, with no limit on its export tonnages into the country...


‘Drop in the ocean’


The 20,000 tonne volume granted to Argentina represents a tiny percentage of the US beef market. The US imports close to one million tonnes of beef a year, and also consumes 90 percent of the almost 12 million tonnes of beef the US cattle industry produces annually (2017 figures). Of that production, 1.3 million tonnes were exported, according to USDA data.


As such, the granting of access to 20,000t per year of Argentiean beef is unlikely to have a large affect on US beef market dynamics.


However, the development represents an important step forward for Argentina’s aspirations to boost its export beef sales.


Meat & Livestock Australia senior analyst Tim Ryan told Beef Central this week that, relative to the entire US beef complex, the 20,000t limit was a drop in the ocean and was not expected to have a significant impact on the market.


By comparison Australian has tariff-free access to the US for 418,214 tonnes of beef per year.


However, Argentina’s regained access to the US market is likely to help its campaign to regain access to other markets...


... The two-way trade deal has generated some concerns from sectors of the US cattle production industry.


R-CALF USA chief executive Bill Bullard told Reuters he was concerned that opening the border to raw beef from Argentina would be certain to put downward pressure on US cattle prices, and meat packers would be able to use the cheaper, undifferentiated beef as a direct substitute for beef produced by US cattle producers...