U.S. pork industry playing defense on trade

While the Trump administration has pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and started renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the National Pork Producers Council is working hard to maintain or expand pork export markets.


Kevin Schulz, National Hog Farmer

Aug 11, 2017


If the sports world saying that defense makes the best offense holds true, U.S. pork producers should be sitting pretty.


Export markets are big factors for the entire U.S. economy, and U.S. pork producers look to foreign markets to purchase pork product; currently about 27% of total U.S. pork production finds its way to foreign markets.


The National Pork Producers Council looks to maintain and improve the amount of U.S. pork finding its way onto international tables, but that is proving more difficult with the Trump administration looking to make America great again by renegotiating or pulling out of trade deals.


“We (NPPC) are playing defense right now,” says Nick Giordano, NPPC vice president and counsel for Global Government Affairs, in light of the Trump administration following through on campaign promises to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. In an NPPC press release it was stated that under TPP, which was strongly supported by the NPPC, Japan’s tariffs on pork, which are determined through a so-called gate price system, would have been nearly eliminated. Economist Dermot Hayes of Iowa State University estimates that U.S. pork exports to Japan would have increased exponentially under TPP, creating more than 5,000 new U.S. jobs.


The Japanese market, and all of Asia, is a potential growth market for U.S. pork, but that potential was put in jeopardy with the recent announcement that the European Union and Japan have reached agreement in principle on a trade pact. Upon that news, the NPPC renewed its request for the Trump administration to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan. NPPC was the first organization to go public requesting a bilateral agreement with Japan in February when Trump announced the United States would be pulling out of TPP.


Giordano says the United States currently has free trade agreements with 20 countries, and the U.S. pork trade with those 20 countries clearly indicates the importance of such FTAs. “We do more business with those 20 countries than the rest of the 100 countries that we do business with combined. … and these do not include Japan and China, so that just shows how successful these FTAs have been.”


“We’d like Japan to be No. 21,” he says. The EU-Japan agreement is a great concern to the NPPC and U.S. pork producers, as that deal “would likely be implemented in January of 2019, if not before. … that will impact U.S. pork producers, U.S. agriculture and that’s going to impact on a wider scale other sectors of the economy because Japan will be giving preferences to the EU that we don’t get, and as a nation that makes us less competitive.”


“This agreement really drives home the importance of market access and helps illustrate why the U.S. meat industry was so supportive of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” says U.S. Meat Export Federation Economist Erin Borror, speaking of the EU-Japan partnership...