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Argentina Now Open to U.S. Pork

In August 2017, the White House announced that the U.S. and Argentina have reached an agreement that will allow U.S. pork to be exported to Argentina for the first time since 1992. Though no exact timeline was established, the market was expected to open once Argentine officials have completed an audit of the U.S. meat inspection system. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service must also outline export requirements for U.S. pork destined for Argentina.

UPDATE: On April 13, 2018, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that U.S. pork is eligible for export to Argentina for the first time since 1992.

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued this statement:

Argentina’s per capita pork consumption has grown rapidly over the past several years, increasing nearly 60 percent since 2011 (based on USDA estimates), and Argentina is the third-largest pork-importing country in South America (behind Chile and Colombia). USMEF has been researching the Argentine market for some time in order to identify commercial opportunities for U.S. pork, and our South America representative, Jessica Julca, is scheduled to meet with importers and other prospective buyers in Argentina next week. Significant interest in the Boston butt has already emerged and we anticipate demand for U.S. hams, picnics and trimmings to be used as raw material for further processing. Argentina also holds potential for U.S.-produced processed pork products.

U.S. pork exports have achieved excellent growth in South America in recent years, with most of the volume destined for Colombia, Chile and Peru. U.S. pork is also eligible for export to Ecuador and Uruguay, and recently gained access to Paraguay. Expanding the range of export opportunities for U.S. red meat is especially important at a time of increased uncertainty in some of our leading markets. Argentina is an exciting addition with solid growth potential, and USMEF thanks USTR and USDA for their steadfast efforts to regain access to the Argentine market.

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Argentina’s per capita pork consumption has increased 57 percent since 2011, reaching an estimated 13.5 kg in 2017 (carcass weight equivalent), based on USDA estimates. USMEF anticipates most of the demand for U.S. pork will be for raw material – including hams, picnics and trimmings – for further processing, but there are also potential opportunities for U.S.-produced processed products. Because the U.S. and Argentina do not have a free trade agreement, U.S. pork will be subject to a 10 percent import duty and 16 percent for processed products, compared to zero tariffs on Brazilian pork products.

Brazil is currently Argentina’s primary supplier of imported pork, exporting about 32,500 metric tons (mt) of pork to Argentina in 2017, valued at about $104 million. Argentina’s total imports were 35,000 mt, with the remainder coming from Denmark, Spain and Italy. Argentina is more than 90 percent self-sufficient in pork production but based on past experience the Argentine pork market has room for further import growth, as imports were once as high as 47,000 mt (2011).