ATLANTA, (DTN) -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack may have missed an opportunity when it comes to timing of announcements
The agriculture secretary had long left the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting Monday when he and Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced that India has agreed to allow imports of U.S. pork and pork products. U.S. officials and the pork industry noted it's taken nearly two decades of talks to reopen pork trade to India.
"This new opportunity marks the culmination of nearly two decades of work to gain market access for U.S. pork to India – and it signals positive movement in U.S.-India trade relations," Vilsack said. "We will continue working with the Indian government to ensure that the U.S. pork industry can begin shipping its high-quality products to consumers as soon as possible."
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauded the announcement to allow imports of U.S. pork and pork products into India. The world's second most populated country at 1.26 billion people, India has kept a de facto ban on U.S. pork. Given the population along, NPPC stated the potential market opportunity is significant. The agreement with the United States also sets the stage for larger trade discussions, NPPC added.
"After decades of work, a market that had been closed to U.S. pork is being opened," said Jen Sorenson, NPPC's president. "NPPC thanks the Biden administration for reaching an agreement with India on market access for our products. We look forward to the new access, which will allow us to provide affordable, wholesome and nutritious U.S. pork products to consumers in India."
Getting access to the Indian market has been one of NPPC's top trade priorities, which also include: elimination of China's retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork, which are 37% while competitors' are only 12%; broader market access in Southeast Asia, including through permanent reduction of tariffs in Vietnam and the Philippines; and unfettered market access for U.S. pork in Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Jamaica, South Africa and Thailand, markets that are completely closed or only partially open to U.S. pork exports.
Vilsack and Tai stated the announcement comes after the revitalization of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum held in New Delhi in November 2021, during which Tai raised the importance of access for U.S. pork with Indian Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal.
"India's agreement to allow U.S. pork imports for the first time is great news and a significant development for U.S. producers and for Indian consumers," said Ambassador Tai. "We will continue working to strengthen the U.S.-India trade relationship and I appreciate Minister Goyal's efforts to facilitate this important development."
Despite 1.26 billion people, the U.S. exported just 1.6 billion in agricultural products to India in fiscal year 2021. Meanwhile, the U.S. exported $7.7 billion in pork in 2020 alone.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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