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Audio: U.S. Pork Exports to Central America Record-large in 2016

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When year-end results are final, U.S. pork exports to Central America will set a new record in 2016, with growth achieved in all seven Central American countries – six of which (all except Belize) were top 20 destinations for U.S. pork. Gerardo Rodriguez, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) marketing director in the region, says that in addition to the mainstay markets of Honduras and Guatemala, U.S. pork exporters are also finding excellent growth opportunities in smaller Central American markets. Promotional efforts in these countries are bolstered by lower import duties achieved through the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, as well as the upward trend in U.S. pork production. These factors are making a wider range of U.S. pork cuts available to Central American buyers at more affordable prices.

Through November 2016, U.S. pork exports to Central America reached 61,764 metric tons valued at $146.7 million, an increase of 19 percent in volume and 13 percent in value over the previous year’s pace.

TRANSCRIPT:

Joe Schuele: 2016 was a record year for U.S. pork exports to Central America, with exports increasing not only to the mainstay markets of Honduras and Guatemala, but to all seven Central America countries – six of which are now Top 20 destinations for U.S. pork. In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF marketing director in the region, says each country has its own challenges and requires its own unique approach.

Gerardo Rodriguez: We have the leading markets, such as Honduras and Guatemala, but at the same time, we need to grow in the different markets in the region. We don’t have one specific strategy for the whole region, so we can do a tailor-made strategy and try to be as effective as we can. We have been having success in Nicaragua, for example, which is a small market, but it has been growing in a tremendous way. Why is that? Because we are there, we are working directly with importers. The same thing is happening in El Salvador. The same thing is happening in Costa Rica, and in Panama.

Joe Schuele: Lower import duties, achieved as a result of free trade agreements, and larger U.S. pork supplies are contributing to export growth.

Gerardo Rodriguez: The different countries, they have different duties at this point. It’s moving forward and the amount of tariff that is being paid at this point over quota is reducing every time. So we have been able to be more reachable, and more product is coming from the U.S – more packers, more companies, more traders. It becomes an opportunity for them to develop business in each of these countries.

Joe Schuele: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.