Korea Lifts Restrictions On US Hogs, Pork

US - The National Pork Producers Council yesterday hailed the Republic of Korea’s decision to inspect only a sample of US pork exports rather than 100 per cent of them and to lift a ban on live hog imports from the United States. The restrictions were put in place in the wake of the H1N1 flu outbreak.
calendar icon 13 August 2009
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"South Korea’s decision is good news for US pork producers," said NPPC President Don Mr Butler. "NPPC has been working closely with US and foreign government officials to terminate all remaining H1N1 restrictions on US hog and pork exports. Korea is a top market for US pork exports and an important destination for swine breeding stock. Our producers are enduring very difficult financial times, and the removal of these restrictions by Korea is appreciated."

The US pork industry since September 2007 has lost nearly $4.5 billion, and producers have lost an average of more than $21 per hog marketed since then. While high production costs – mostly feed grain prices – are the primary culprit for the industry’s economic woes, restrictions on US pork and hog exports put in place in early May by a number of countries that cited fears of H1N1 exacerbated the problems.

In 2008 South Korea was the sixth largest market for US pork, with exports valued at $284 million. In 2009 exports to Korea through May were down 10 per cent by volume and 7 per cent in value. Breeding stock exports to South Korea also are down in 2009 because of the H1N1-related ban. The country ranked as a top destination for US live hogs in 2008 with exports of $1.1 million.

Korea’s decision to lift the restrictions will reignite enthusiasm for the US-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement, which contains tremendous benefits for US pork producers, according to NPPC, which helped secure favorable treatment for US pork and pork products. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, when the FTA is fully implemented, US pork exports to the Asian nation will rise to nearly 600,000 metric tons. That’s significantly more than the amount currently shipped to Japan, the No. 1 export market for US pork. Hayes also estimates that the FTA will increase by $10 the price producers receive for each hog marketed.

"This is the single most important trade agreement ever for the US pork industry, and it will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new export sales," said Mr Butler. "We need Congress to approve the FTA with South Korea as soon as possible."

Under terms of the FTA, tariffs on all frozen and processed pork products will be eliminated by 2014. Fresh chilled pork will be duty free 10 years after implementation. US pork products currently face tariffs as high as 25 per cent. Additionally, South Korea has agreed to accept all pork and pork products from USDA-approved facilities.

The trade deal with South Korea was made possible in part because of the effective working relationship between NPPC and the National Pork Checkoff Board and their shared goal of increasing US pork exports.

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