USDA, in collaboration with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, on Thursday reached agreement with South African officials to allow most U.S. exports of poultry, pork and beef and their products to re-gain access to the South African market.
The agreement is pursuant to an out-of-cycle review of South Africa conducted under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
The agreement was reached following intense U.S. government engagement with South African officials over the last year. With this renewed access for U.S. red meat and poultry products, U.S. exports to South Africa could generate $75 million of shipments annually.
Only a limited number of U.S. poultry and meat products have been exported to South Africa in recent years, due to unwarranted sanitary requirements by the South African authorities, with most poultry exports blocked for the last 15 years.
"We're pleased that this process has reached a successful conclusion and that U.S. chicken can again be shipped to South Africa," Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and National Chicken Council President Mike Brown said in a joint statement Thursday.
USAPEEC and NCC negotiated an agreement with the South African Poultry Association to end the South African chicken embargo in Paris last June, which required the support and approval of the respective governments.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the move is good news for farmers, ranchers and poultry, pork and beef companies.
"We welcome this move by South Africa and will continue our efforts to break down barriers and expand access for high-quality, safe and wholesome U.S. food and agricultural products around the world," he said. "With this agreement, South Africa reaffirms the scientific soundness and integrity of the U.S. system for ensuring animal health and food safety, and this will result in high-quality U.S. meat and poultry being available for South African consumers."
The National Pork Producers Council also was supportive of efforts to expand trade, but the group said it has not yet seen the fine print of an agreement between the United States and South Africa and understands that some restrictions on U.S. pork may remain.
"While dropping the ban on U.S. pork is great progress," NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage said, "there is no scientific reason to restrict any of our pork, so we'll continue to work with both governments to get complete access to the South African market."
"NPPC applauds President Obama and our trade officials for bringing home the bacon for U.S. pork producers. We have been on the outside looking in as our competitors from Brazil, Canada and the European Union sell pork to South Africa.
"Now that the barriers are falling, we have gained the opportunity to sell safe, high-quality and affordable U.S. pork to over 50 million new consumers," Prestage said.
According to USDA, the past seven years have been the strongest in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $911.4 billion since 2009. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs and boost economic growth, Vilsack said.