USTR aims for fair trade of pork

27-05-2009 | |

In his first address to an agricultural trade association as a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, US Trade Representative Ron has said he is committed to making US exports a cornerstone of the nation’s economic recovery. In order to do so, however, he emphasised that trading partners must honour their commitments and grant fair and consistent market access to US products.

“Our goal at USTR is pretty simple, and that’s to continue to give you greater access to more international markets for America’s high-quality beef and pork,” he said. “We believe that one of the best ways that we can do that is by stronger enforcement of existing rules.”

Kirk was especially critical of trade suspensions recently imposed on US pork – and, in some cases, beef – due to A-H1N1 Influenza.©

“More than a dozen countries imposed trade restrictions on US agricultural products without scientific justification as a result of that outbreak,” he said. “For us, this is a big deal. As much as $900 million in annual US exports could potentially be in jeopardy.”©

The most problematic markets in this regard are China and Russia, Kirk said. He also noted that Russia had already been systematically limiting market access for US pork through what he termed “arbitrary delisting” of US processing plants.

“We have raised these concerns with our Russian counterparts and will continue to press for resolution of these issues,” Kirk said. He added that it would be a profound mistake to simply assume these interruptions in trade will only be temporary – a lesson livestock producers have learned all too well in recent years.

Kirk said he not only welcomes the input of agricultural producers on matters of trade, he knows it is absolutely essential to his success as the nation’s top trade official.