Beef exports in the first quarter of this year have been sluggish compared with a year ago, perhaps due to a slightly strengthening U.S. dollar through first-quarter 2012. U.S. beef exports were lower year-over-year to Japan (-4 percent), Mexico (-11 percent), South Korea (-41 percent), and Hong Kong (-19 percent). Exports to Egypt and Vietnam were higher, year-over-year, by 31 and 37 percent, respectively. Total U.S. beef exports are expected to decrease in the third and fourth quarters of 2012 compared with year-earlier levels as less beef is available for export. U.S. beef production is expected to be 5 and 8 percent lower in the third and fourth quarters of 2012, and exports are expected to be 9 percent and 6 percent lower in those quarters. Beef export levels in 2013 are expected to be only slightly (1 percent) below forecast 2012 levels, at 2.65 billion pounds.