Thailand hasn’t provided American pork with adequate market access
By Diego Flammini
American officials are taking action against a trading partner because it isn’t fulfilling its obligations related to U.S. pork imports.
On Oct. 30, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced the U.S. is suspending $817 million of trade benefits with Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
The revocation will take effect on Dec. 30 and affect 231 Thai products including dried produce and tools.
The GSP program, established in 1976, is designed to promote economic growth in developing countries. The GSP provides duty-free access for over 3,500 products from nearly 120 designated countries.
To be eligible for the GSP program, countries must comply with 15 criteria.
One of the criteria is to provide the U.S. with market access for certain goods.
Thailand, which is America’s top export market within the GSP, isn’t providing U.S. pork the access it should be, the U.S. says.
America is taking action “based on (Thailand’s) lack of sufficient progress providing the United States with equitable and reasonable access for pork products.”
An industry group alerted the office of the U.S. Trade Representative about Thailand’s failure to meet its pork import commitments.
In 2017, Thailand only imported 31 metric tons of U.S. pork, valued at $127,000, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said in a 2018 petition.
In addition, Thailand imposes fees of about $220 per metric ton on imported pork compared to $7.50 for domestic pork.
In 2016, Thailand imported 68.9 metric tons of pork, the NPPC said in a separate document.
Thailand also maintains a ban on imports of uncooked pork, all pork offal products and pork produced with ractopamine.
The NPPC is pleased to see the federal government take action to support hog farmers.
“For years, Thailand has taken full advantage of special U.S. trade benefits, while imposing a completely unjustified de facto ban on U.S. pork,” Howard Roth, president of NPPC, said in a statement. “We thank the administration for taking this action and hope it results in fair access to the Thai market for U.S. hog farmers.”
Thai officials, however, don’t appear to be fazed by America’s actions.
Only 147 of the 231 affected products enter the U.S., said Keerati Rushchano, director general of Thailand’s department of foreign trade.
“These products will be taxed at a normal or higher rate but not banned from entering into the United States,” he said, Malaysian publication The Star reported. “And if these Thai products maintain their quality and popularity, it’s believed the higher tax won’t hinder importers in the United States from continuing to import them from Thailand as usual.”