Trans-Pacific trade deal could hit EU pork exports

EU pork exporters could find it “harder” to compete for business in Japan and Australia once the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is ratified by the countries involved, according to AHDB Pork.

The deal, signed on Monday this week, involves 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, covering 40% of the world’s economy. The USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are among the countries involved, a grouping which AHDB Pork has warned “could have an impact on the global pork trade”.

“In terms of pork, the main importers among TPP signatories are Japan, Australia and Mexico, along with the US, Canada and Chile who are all pork exporters,” said AHDB Pork, adding that while trade between Mexico, Canada and the US is already governed by an earlier trade agreement, the new deal could give these exporters a fresh advantage in Japan and Australia.

Outside the EU, Japan is the world’s largest pork importer with the US and Canada supplying around half of Japanese pork imports in the last year. That’s a market share, however, which has fallen since 2012 when it stood at over 60%, with the US/Canada decline being due to increased shipments from the EU.

The AHDB Pork view now, however, is that the signing of TPP may make it “harder for EU exporters to compete on this important market” and that they could see their market share falling again.

While Australia is a smaller market, importing just over 140,000 tonnes last year, the EU has also been making inroads there in recent years, with US/Canada shipments drifting downwards from just over 60% in 2012 to around 50% now. TPP is now also a challenge for EU exporters in that market as well.

The full details of the new deal are still to be published, although it’s expected that many tariffs on agricultural products, including meat, will be reduced or eliminated. That could involve a transitional period of up to 10 years, however.

The remaining hope for EU exporters is that the ratification of the deal, which is likely to take several months, will attract “detailed scrutiny” in the US, where there is a widespread belief that previous trade agreements have cost jobs.

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