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USMEF reflects on meat exports, seeks to improve trade relations

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)


A nonprofit trade association addresses trade barriers at an international conference.

The United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF) gathers in Tucson, Arizona this week for their Strategic Planning Conference. The association plans to address trade barriers and talk about 2017 meat exports.

USMEF CEO Philip Seng says U.S. pork exports to Mexico have grown by roughly 18%. This causes some concern, as President Trump threatens to cut ties with Mexico by cancelling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“The most imminent thing we’re concerned about – as the United States goes into the fifth set of negotiations of NAFTA – would be NAFTA itself. I don’t think anyone would disagree that it’s been a beautiful arrangement of the read meat industry,” Seng said.

The Mexican market continues to grow, and quietly became the number one volume destination for United States pork exports. Other trade policy threatening the United States meat export market is Japan’s significant tariff on chilled beef imports.

Seng notes the United States has made great strides in terms of meat exports this year.

“With double-digit increase from year-to-year, it’s very clear the international marketplace is pulling its weight,” Seng said. “Our exports are growing at least two to three times faster than our production. This continues to be a very profitable center for the industry, and for that, we’re happy.”

United States beef exports increased in Japan, Korea, China, Australia, South America and Africa. Seng says the United States saw the greatest increase in the African market.

“Africa has gone up about 95%,” Seng said. “That has been primarily driven by South America. A couple years ago, we garnered access to the South African market. Today, South Africa has become our number four liver market. This is really a testament to some of the good work our staff and U.S. government has done, as far as getting export documentation and (other) requirements for the market, understanding the market.”

United States pork exports increased in South Korea, South America, Caribbean, Australia, Taiwan, Africa and Mexico.