Audio: Despite Trade Barriers, Ecuador a Promising Market for U.S. Red Meat

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Ecuador imported U.S. agricultural products at a record pace in 2020, including a new high for U.S. beef. But as Cheyenne McEndaffer, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) director of export services and access, explains, U.S. beef and pork face a number of trade barriers in Ecuador that have kept it a relatively small destination for red meat exports.

Several factors make Ecuador a promising market, including a growing tourism sector and its use of the U.S. dollar as the official currency. Following a BSE-related closure, Ecuador reopened to U.S. beef in 2014. But shortly thereafter, Ecuador announced an additional 45% surcharge on most imported food products, including U.S. beef and pork. The surcharge was imposed on top of already-high import duties, making it difficult to develop the market. Ecuador phased out the import surcharge in 2017, but still has import licensing requirements that have been a source of frustration for the U.S. industry. Ecuador also recently implemented facility and product registration requirements that are a significant concern for U.S. exporters. McEndaffer notes that USMEF is working with industry partners and the U.S. government to push for reasonable registration requirements that that won’t deter U.S. suppliers from entering the market.

In 2020, U.S. beef exports to Ecuador totaled 1,023 metric tons, up 24% from the previous year, valued at $3.8 million (up 38%). Pork exports declined 23% to 462 metric tons, with value down 10% to $1.8 million.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.