For The Week Ending March 29, 2013
NEW ZEALAND COURT DECISION CLEARS WAY FOR GREATER MARKET ACCESS FOR U.S. PORK
New Zealand’s Court of Appeal last week rejected the New Zealand pork industry’s (NZPork) appeal of a decision issued by the country’s High Court last May that further liberalized market access for U.S. pork. The High Court found in favor of the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries and its Import Health Standard (IHS) for pork, pork products and by-products from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), including the United States. The IHS would allow the importation of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork less than three kilograms. Thanks to the work of experts nominated by NPPC to the New Zealand Independent Working Group and the New Zealand PRRS Expert Working Group, scientific evidence was used to illustrate the minimal risk of spreading the virus. In fact, based on a conservative risk assessment model, New Zealand’s chances of getting PRRS from legally imported uncooked pork product are such that it would realize one case every 1,227 years. The country’s draft IHS originally was issued in November 2007, but because of the New Zealand pork industry’s strong political opposition, the process was stalled for several years while the expert groups convened. NPPC is urging U.S. trade negotiators to ask New Zealand and Australia, which also imposes unscientific restrictions on U.S. pork because of PRRS, to remove all PRRS-related restrictions and allow full and open access for U.S. pork and pork products as a part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. NZPork has 20 working days to decide whether to appeal the case to the New Zealand Supreme Court.
NPPC MEETS WITH OFFICIALS IN TAIWAN
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano traveled to Taiwan this week to meet with government officials and private-sector representatives to discuss issues of mutual interest to the U.S.-Taiwan bilateral trade relationship. The Taiwanese parliament last year voted to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports from cattle produced with ractopamine but left the ban in place on pork produced with the same product. Ractopamine is a feed ingredient that improves the feed efficiency, growth rate and lean carcass percentage of live hogs and cattle. It has been approved for use in hogs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by the food-safety agencies in 25 other countries. Last year, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit (MRL) for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. In 2012, the U.S. exported 18,128 metric tons of pork and pork products to Taiwan, valued at $41 million. According to analysis by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the quantity and value exported to Taiwan is far below the potential that the United States could export if the ractopamine ban were removed. NPPC is working closely with the U.S. government to ensure Taiwan abides by World Trade Organization rules on trade and lifts its ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine without further delay.
NPPC MEETS WITH OFFICIALS IN VIETNAM
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano last week traveled to Vietnam to meet with government officials and private-sector representatives to discuss issues of mutual interest to the U.S.-Vietnam trade relationship. Vietnam offers great potential for expanding U.S. pork exports, especially pork variety meats; however, there are several non-tariff barriers that currently restrict U.S. pork exports to Vietnam. Barriers to market access include: a ban on the importation of all “white offals;” a zero-tolerance policy for pathogens on raw meat products, including pork; “Circular 25,” a burdensome regulation requiring U.S. exporting establishments to supply confidential company information; and reference prices, or minimum invoice prices, for certain kinds of pork imports, including shoulders and ribs. NPPC is working with Vietnam to encourage the adoption of science-based food regulations as part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.
NPPC JOINS COALITION TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURE RESEARCH FUNDING
NPPC Thursday joined the Friends of the Agriculture Research Service (FARS) Coalition in sending a letter asking the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies to support at least $1.103 billion for USDA’s Agriculture Research Service – the same amount in President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request. The group said funding will advance competiveness and sustainability of U.S. agriculture. Click here to read the letter.
HEARING ON OBAMA’S TRADE POLICY AGENDA HELD
Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis testified last week at a hearing on the Obama administration’s trade policy agenda, emphasizing as key trade goals for 2013 renewing Trade Promotion Authority, advancing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations toward conclusion and launching negotiations with the European Union. Ambassador Marantis reaffirmed the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) commitment to negotiate with the European Union a comprehensive 21st century agreement, which includes resolving sanitary issues. Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, raised questions about restrictions on U.S. pork exports because of bans on ractopamine in several countries, including Taiwan and Russia. In the case of Taiwan, Marantis responded that the Taiwanese government’s decision to set a maximum residue level for beef and not for pork continues to be a priority issue for USTR.
NPPC LEGISLATIVE ‘FLY-IN’ SET FOR MID-APRIL
NPPC will hold its spring Legislative Action Conference April 10-11 in Washington, D.C. The biannual “fly-in” draws from around the country more than 120 pork producers, who lobby their congressional lawmakers on issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry. For more information, contact Gwen Bingham at 202-347-3600.
HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON DERIVATIVES LAW
The House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Capital Markets will hold a hearing April 11 on legislation that would make changes to the derivatives provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
NO CAPITAL UPDATE NEXT FRIDAY
Congressional lawmakers began a two-week break last Friday afternoon; they return to Washington April 8. Capital Update will not be published again until April 12.