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Audio: U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Sees Potential to Expand U.S. Meat Exports

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On June 5, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Todd Chapman visited U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) headquarters in Denver to discuss market conditions in Ecuador and ideas for expanding U.S. beef and pork exports to this market.

Ecuador seemed to be a promising destination for U.S. red meat when it reopened to U.S. beef in 2014, following a BSE-related closure that lasted more than 10 years (U.S. pork already had access at that time). But about one year later, Ecuador imposed prohibitive tariffs on many imported food products, including a 45 percent tariff on beef and pork products. With these temporary surcharges imposed on top of Ecuador’s regular import duties (which range from 20 to 45 percent for red meat), U.S. exporters understandably showed little interest in the market.

But Ecuador’s additional tariffs have been gradually phased out in 2017 and on June 1 the rate fell to zero, restoring the potential for U.S. meat exports to Ecuador. Ambassador Chapman sees great promise for U.S. beef and pork in Ecuador’s hotel and restaurant sector, which is expanding rapidly in response to a large influx of tourists.

TRANSCRIPT:

Joe Schuele: Todd Chapman, U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, visited the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Denver headquarters to discuss ideas for increasing beef and pork exports to Ecuador, which have been down the past two years because of prohibitively high tariffs. Those tariffs went away June 1 and Chapman feels this opens new opportunities for U.S. meat in Ecuador’s rapidly growing tourism sector.

Todd Chapman: An important part of what an U.S. Embassy does abroad is to promote U.S. exports, so we’re always looking for creative ways to do that. There are a couple of things happening in Ecuador that I think are going to argue for increased U.S. meat exports. One is the tourism sector is growing very fast, and so that means you have lots of nice hotels and restaurants. Ecuador likes to portray itself as having four-in-one: you’ve got the Galapagos, you’ve got the beaches, you’ve got the Andes Mountains and you’ve got the Amazon region. And I’ve been to all four, and I can tell you it’s just a fantastic place for tourism. So you have lodges and hotels sprouting up all over the country. And then secondly, some of the trade barriers are coming down. They’ve had a prohibitive tariff on meat exports coming from the United State for the last two years. Fortunately, as of June 1, those are gone. So, I think that those two factors argue in favor of growing U.S. exports to Ecuador.

Joe Schuele: Chapman sees the roles of the Embassy and USMEF as especially important in a small market like Ecuador, which doesn’t always attract attention from exporters.

Todd Chapman: Organizations like the Meat Export Federation are important for providing export promotion opportunities, particularly in a smaller market. I know that a lot of times exporters focus on the Chinas and the Brazils, just because the markets are so large. But doing export promotion in a smaller market like Ecuador is important. Put a bunch of small markets together and it becomes a big market. And we stand ready as the U.S. Embassy to support those efforts.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.