As USMEF has previously reported, the 12,050 metric ton (mt) quarterly allocation of the European Union’s duty-free, high-quality beef (HQB) quota reached its critical phase with several days remaining in the July-September quarter, meaning importers were required to post a bank guarantee in order to clear shipments at zero duty prior to Oct. 1.
According to the end-of-quarter report from EU Customs, the quarterly allocation reached 97.5 percent utilization at 11,746 mt, meaning that only 304 mt of available capacity were carried over to the October-December quarter. Historically the October-December quarter has been the period of heaviest utilization for the HQB quota, so USMEF expects the quarterly allocation to reach the critical phase even earlier than it did during the past quarter – especially if imports under the quota from Australia and Uruguay continue their recent performance.
We first reported in August that Argentine officials had issued a news release stating that Argentina had gained access to the HQB quota. This was confirmed on Sept. 29 when the European Commission added Argentina’s Ministry of Economy and Public Finance to the list of agencies approved to issue certificates of authenticity.
The addition of Argentina as an eligible supplier further increases the likelihood that the HQB quota will be completely filled prior to the end of the current quota year (June 30, 2015). The quota was filled to 86 percent of capacity in the most recently concluded quota year, and growing shipments from Australia, Uruguay and the United States were already expected to push it to full capacity this year.