Improved access to international markets is the top priority for the U.S. poultry industry in the current round of trade negotiations, a top industry executive told the House Agriculture Committee here today.
“Most important for U.S. poultry producers and exporters as an outcome of the Doha Round is achieving greatly improved market access,” said Cliff Butler, vice chairman of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation of Pittsburg, Texas, who was speaking on behalf of the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.
“Cutting high import tariffs will better assure U.S. poultry of having improved opportunities to compete in world markets,” Butler said. “But high tariff trade barriers are not the only issues to be addressed. Import quotas and tariff-rate quotas must also be reduced and eliminated.” U.S. poultry exports face market access restrictions in many countries, such as a quota in Canada and sanitary/veterinary barriers for the European Union.
Butler said the poultry industry supports the principles of the AgTrade Coalition, which are aimed at reforming agricultural and food trade policy, promoting global food security through open trade, and increasing trade liberalization in the agriculture and food sector. He noted that sanitary/veterinary restrictions are increasingly used as trade barriers and said such restrictions must be based on science.
Butler said the U.S. poultry industry is hopeful the WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December will prove successful to expanding free and fair trade. At the same time, however, he agreed with other observers that the EU reluctance to more fully engage in negotiations could make the December meeting not an end point but just another milestone.
The United States is a major exporter of poultry products with about 15 percent of chicken products exported and about 10 percent of turkey products.
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.
The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities, which increase demand for its members’ products and protect and enhance the ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality, nutritious turkey products.
The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) is a trade association that promotes U.S. poultry and egg products around the world. Headquartered in Stone Mountain, USAPEEC has 13 offices in 10 countries. USAPEEC member companies account for more than 95 percent of all exports of U.S. poultry and egg products.