The African swine fever outbreak that has decimated China’s pig herds and boosted the country’s demand for imported protein would normally be a boon for U.S. pork exporters. But the industry fears Trump’s tariff fight with Beijing is partially squandering a lucrative opportunity.
“You have this explosive demand for imported pork in China,” said Nick Giordano, vice president for global government affairs at the National Pork Producers Council. “Under normal economic conditions, we would be the single largest beneficiary. Now the question is, do we get the main course … or are we just getting the leftovers from the table?”
The AFS outbreak could still benefit U.S. producers by creating upward pressure on pork prices. But Giordano told MA there’s concern that other major exporters like Europe and Brazil will step up their production to meet the heavy Chinese demand – creating tougher competition for the U.S. industry over the long term.
Still, 2019 so far has been better for the pork industry than last year, especially since Trump reached a tariff resolution with Canada and Mexico. “We’re breathing easier because of that,” Giordano said.
Pork sales to China doubled year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019, our partners at the South China Morning Post report. Earlier this month, China bought over 10,000 metric tons of U.S. pork, its largest purchase in seven weeks, per Reuters .
Eyes on the prize: Giordano said the industry’s top priority is a trade deal with Japan to help producers compete with pork-exporting competitors like Canada and Chile, which are now benefiting from the 11-nation Trans Pacific Partnership. Trump withdrew from the original TPP in 2017, and the revised pact went into effect this year without the U.S.
“We need something that can be implemented by 2020,” Giordano said.