US National Pork Producers Council and American hog producers do not want a ‘food fight’ with the UK pig industry writes John Wilkes.
Nick Giordano, vice-president and counsel, global government affairs, at the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), said when looking at the ongoing ties between the two countries, it was an ‘inescapable conclusion’ to have a free trade agreement.
Agriculture negotiation will always involve sensitivities, mostly at the farmer level, but in terms of the consumer, Mr Giordano said: “If you do not want it, do not buy it. You vote with your pocketbook.”
Though Mr Giordano stressed no participation from either the NPPC or American pig producers in the 25 per cent tariff imposed on UK pork exports to the US in October 2019, it was damaging.
UK pork exports to the US were down 73 per cent from January- March 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.
“Unequivocally we had nothing to do with that,” he said.
“These tariffs were in the context of Airbus [subsidies]. It was down to the UK Government, Airbus and the Trump administration.”
Before US trade negotiators met with the UK, the NPPC made the request that typically precedes all US trade talks.
“We want all tariffs and non-tariff barriers eliminated. Let the market and consumers decide,” he said.
Mr Giordano added this ensured countries, ‘do not erect these ridiculous non-science-based barriers to keep us out of the market – we are not going to tolerate that’.
NPPC is pro-trade and does not ‘crusade’ for restrictions on pork imports from other countries.
When pork is part of a US free trade agreement, the partner country reduces or eliminates tariffs over time. As an example, Colombia has a lower GDP and its tariffs went to zero in five-years.
Mr Giordano foresees some difficulty for US and UK trade negotiation on standards.
“If the UK feels pressure economically, geopolitically or for whatever reason, to cave to the EU to maintain EU regulatory regimen, and it tries to apply these standards to the US, it is not going to fly with us,” he said.
A disregard for science-based outcomes goes beyond meat and poultry sectors. It is viewed by the US, according to Mr Giordano, as a ‘kick in the teeth to innovators all over the world’.
He noted living standards in the UK and EU afford public opportunity to ‘live better than kings and queens did a couple of hundred years ago’.
“You can explain the reason in one word – technology,” he said.