Some Mexican news outlets reported this week that Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) had recognized Mexico as free of classical swine fever (CSF). These reports were premature, however, as USMEF-Japan confirmed that any changes in Japan’s current import policy could take several more months. Japan currently restrict imports from Mexico to pork produced in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Yucatan, Sinaloa, Baja California and Jalisco.
Despite these restrictions, exports to Japan account for about 80 percent of Mexico’s worldwide total. In 2014, Mexico’s exports to Japan totaled 73,561 metric tons (mt) valued at $359 million. Japanese import data show first-quarter chilled/frozen pork imports from Mexico were 16,900 mt, up 9 percent from last year. In March, imports of chilled Mexican pork were record-large at 1,963 mt (combined chilled/frozen imports were 6,607 mt, +9 percent). Mexico has benefited from its Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, but its labor advantage also allows Mexican processors to add value to products and help them meet Japan’s gate price. Japan’s imports of both Mexican and Canadian chilled pork also increased in the first quarter due to the slowdown at West Coast U.S. ports.
On a related note, USDA-APHIS is still considering an expansion of the Mexican states from which the United States will accept pork imports. Comments in this proceeding, which we detailed in the Aug. 1, 2014, Export Newsline, were due Sept. 29. Those comments are still being reviewed, and no further action has been taken.