More than 70 US lawmakers led by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin), Darin LaHood (R-Illinois), Jim Costa (D-California) and Dusty Johnson (R-South Dakota) recently sent a letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai calling for enhanced access for US pork in Vietnam.
In their letter, the US lawmakers noted that Vietnam presents a tremendous opportunity for US pork exporters. Last year, they said Vietnam imported only 25,000 tonnes of pork from the US, while Mexico, the second largest importer of US pork, consumed 735,000 tonnes.
“While Mexico may be geographically closer, Vietnam's roughly 96 million citizens consume 57 lbs. of pork per year compared to Mexico’s 31 lbs. Allowing US pork producers to fill this great demand provides the opportunity to increase the value of exports to Vietnam from the current US$54 million to a level closer to Mexico's US$1.2 billion,” the lawmakers analysed in the letter.
Last year, Vietnam took an initial step forward in addressing the US pork tariff disadvantage when, from July-December 2020, it temporarily reduced its Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rates from 15% to 10% for frozen US pork products. As a result, US pork exports doubled during that timeframe, compared to the first half of the year.
“The surge in exports during the tariff reprieve, coupled with Vietnam’s growing population and cultural preference for high-quality pork, demonstrates that the United States is barely scratching the surface of its export potential to Vietnam,” the letter added.
The lawmakers voiced their support for Trade Representative Katherine Tai to engage Vietnam on the full range of trade issues, including lowering the MFN rates for US pork.
“Domestic pork producers need a level playing field to compete in this critical market, particularly after being devastated by trade retaliation and the global pandemic,” they concluded.
In a statement, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) appreciated the lawmakers’ move in recognizing the importance of the Vietnamese market to US pork producers, and stated Vietnam represents a significant opportunity for US hog farmers. NPPC President Jen Sorenson also stressed US pork producers are obstructed by tariff and non-tariff barriers, allowing global competitors to take advantage of the supply shortfall.
The NPPC said it will continue to seek enhanced market access to Vietnam, as well as the Philippines, another US pork consumer in Southeast Asia, which are in need of affordable, reliable sources of pork.