For the Week Ending July 15, 2011
Washington, July 15, 2011 -
RUSSIA’S WTO ACCESSION NEGOTIATIONS HEAT UP
Russia’s World Trade Organization accession negotiations with the United States have been picking up speed in recent weeks and are now at a critical stage. U.S. trade negotiators have been in constant talks with their Russian counterparts to resolve a number of outstanding issues as both countries hope to wrap up negotiations soon. NPPC is concerned with the progress of the negotiations. The issue of an established tariff rate quota for pork remains unresolved, but most importantly a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) equivalency agreement has not been reached. The U.S. pork industry continues to face a number of market access problems in Russia. U.S. pork sales to Russia have plummeted from 203,000 metric tons in 2008 to 83,000 metric tons in 2010. Those losses are the result of Russia’s unjustified SPS barriers and unilateral reduction of its tariff rate quotas for U.S. pork. NPPC has been working closely with the Obama administration to obtain the best possible market access deal through Russia’s WTO accession negotiations. NPPC’s priority is to establish more certainty and predictability in the Russian market for U.S. pork exporters through the elimination of SPS barriers and a large tariff rate quota.
HOUSE APPROVES CHECK ON AUTHORITY OF EPA OVER CLEAN WATER ACT
The House Wednesday passed a bill that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from overruling state decisions on water quality. The legislation was approved on a 239-184 vote. The White House threatened to veto the bill. The Clean Water Act gives states responsibility for protecting waterways, but EPA can impose regulations if it believes water resources aren’t being adequately protected. The measure strips the EPA of that oversight authority. Supporters of the legislation said its goal is to restore cooperation between the federal government and the states and to rein in an agency that is usurping states’ rights and harming the economy. The bill also would require EPA to determine the effect of its regulations on jobs. NPPC supports the legislation, which has been sent to the Senate.
NPPC MEETS WITH ROYAL THAI EMBASSY OFFICIALS
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano this week met with officials of the Embassy of Thailand for the second time in the last few months to again stress the need for Thailand to remove all restrictions on U.S. pork imports. Thailand limits U.S. pork imports in three ways: It refuses to accept pork in which the feed ingredient ractopamine was used in the production process; discriminates against imported pork by assessing an inspection fee of five Baht per kilogram, amounting to about $166 per metric ton – Thailand assesses an inspection of only about $15 per metric tons on domestic pork – and has an arbitrary process for issuing import permits. NPPC seeks elimination of all three of these restrictions. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who recently visited Thailand, calculates that the removal of the barriers will result in significant U.S. pork sales to Thailand.
NPPC MEETS WITH PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano this week met with Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. to discuss policies that discriminate against imported pork. In November 2010 the Philippine Department of Agriculture implemented Administrative Order (AO) 22, which imposes new rules and regulations on the marketing of frozen pork in Philippine markets. AO 22 includes a new requirement mandating the refrigeration of frozen pork transported to and sold in Philippine markets, including Philippine “wet markets.” This requirement is certain to have a highly negative impact on U.S. pork exports to the Philippines. While AO 22 imposes refrigeration requirements on frozen pork, it imposes no such requirements on the fresh pork “warm meat” for Philippine pork producers. AO 22 also contains traceability, labeling and packaging requirements for all frozen pork products sold at retail, including wet markets. The Philippines has increasing importance for U.S. pork exports, with sales in 2010 of 55,407 metric tons, valued at $107 million. NPPC is working to remove these restrictions to maintain and grow U.S. pork exports to the Philippines.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE WILL LOOK AT USDA ENERGY, FORESTRY PROGRAMS
The subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry of the House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing July 20 to review and audit U.S. Department of Agriculture energy and forestry programs.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER CFTC NOMINATION
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a confirmation hearing July 21 on the nomination of Mark P. Wetjen to be a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.