In recent years the Philippines has blossomed into an excellent market for both U.S. pork and beef. One reason behind this growth has been the relatively smooth market access afforded to imported meat products.

But recently the Philippine Department of Agriculture placed a hold on veterinary quarantine certificates (VQCs), causing lengthy delays as importers waited for their orders to be cleared for distribution. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Senior Vice President Joel Haggard and ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin were in Manila last week to help break this impasse, when Haggard filed the attached audio report.

Haggard says livestock producers in the Philippines – especially pork producers – have been applying increased pressure on the government to curb imports, which may have been a contributing factor in this situation. After extensive meetings with Philippine trade officials, the issuance of import certificates has now resumed, allowing product to re-enter the marketplace. But Haggard says the recent delays are a concern for importers and exporters alike, as they raise questions about the reliability of the Philippine market. Philippine officials have also been weighing regulations that would mandate a cold chain for all imported meat products while not applying the same regulatory scrutiny to domestically produced meat. These proposed regulations also raise concerns about the current business climate in the Philippines.

Through September, this year’s U.S. beef exports to the Philippines totaled 22.3 million pounds valued at more than $29 million – an increase of 20 percent in volume and more than one-third in value over 2010. Pork exports, which have been more heavily impacted by recent events, are down from last year but still totaled nearly 65 million pounds valued at more than $68 million.