Removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in 2013 resulted in improved access for U.S. agricultural products in foreign markets, according to three reports the Office of the United States Trade Representative sent to President Obama and Congress.
“Trade has been an important part of the United States’ economic recovery, and it is a critical component of President Obama’s forward-looking strategy to unlock opportunities that will create jobs, promote growth and strengthen the middle class,” U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman said. “Over the last five years, we have expanded and intensified trade enforcement efforts, making clear that the Obama Administration is prepared and willing to go to the mat for American workers and businesses. The National Trade Estimate report plays an important role by shining a spotlight on significant trade barriers that our goods and services exporters face.”
The three reports, the National Trade Estimate Report, the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Report and the Technical Barriers of Trade report, detail the work USTR has done over the past year.
Sanitary (human and animal health) and phytosanitary (plant health) barriers to trade have and continue to challenge increasing beef U.S. beef exports. USTR says while countries should implement necessary measures to protect human, animal and plant health, some impose arbitrary and unwarranted restrictions on imports to their countries.
With regard to SPS issues relating to U.S. beef, USTR reports that Indonesia, the Dominican Republic and Panama have opened their markets to a wider variety of U.S. beef and beef products. According to USTR, progress has been made with Mexico as well. Previously, Mexico only allowed beef imports from cattle less than 30 months of age. Now, our neighbor to the south has agreed to allow imports of all U.S. beef and beef products recognized under international standards as being safe for human or animal consumption.
USTR also reports that it has worked with the European Union to obtain approval for U.S. beef treated with lactic acid. According to USTR, approval of this treatment has made it easier for U.S. producers and sell beef into the European Union market. Beef exports to the EU reached a record $252 million in 2013. Overall, total U.S. beef exports were more than $6 million last year, a 12 percent increase compared to the previous year.
The SPS report also highlights efforts to remove barriers related to swine and products being exported to the European Union, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan and Bahrain; fruit exports to Australia and horticulture exports to Asian markets.
Overall, agricultural and food exports reached a record $148 billion. USTR reports that exports of agricultural products support more than 929,000 U.S. jobs.