What's the Background?
Despite the recent surge in U.S. pork sales, Australia maintains very significant non-tariff sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) barriers to U.S. pork imports. The United States currently is restricted to sending processed pork or frozen, boneless pork for further processing to Australia. While the two countries committed after the negotiation of the U.S.-Australia FTA to move quickly to remove impediments to trade, to date no progress has been made. Australia restricts U.S. pork based on concerns over Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Postweaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS).
• PRRS. Australia limits the import of U.S. pork to heat-processed pork and frozen boneless pork for further processing because of what it claims is a threat of transmission of PRRS to the Australian swine herd. The risk of introduction of PRRS into the Australian swine herd fromthe importation of U.S. pork is negligible. There never has been a case of PRRS being transmitted through legally imported fresh, chilled or frozen pork to any country free of PRRS. Australia’s PRRS-related restrictions on U.S. pork are inconsistent with international standards. The World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) sees trade in live animals and genetics as posing a PRRS threat but does not recognize trade in pork meat products as posing a threat of transmitting the disease. (The OIE’s May 2017 PRRS chapter denotes “meat products” as a safe commodity. The chapter states specifically that “when authorizing import or transit of safe commodities and any products made from those commodities and containing no other tissues from pigs, Veterinary Authorities should not require any PRRS- related conditions, regardless of the PRRS status of the exporting country, zone, or compartment.”) Australia has not assessed the health risks posed by U.S. pork since 2003 and should commence and complete an updated risk assessment immediately.
• PMWS. Australia restricts U.S. pork imports because of unfounded concerns over the presence of PMWS in the United States. But most countries, including Australia, havePMWS in their herd. In 2007, Australian researchers concluded that PMWS existed in the Australian herd and had been present for a number of years. Australia’s PMWS-related restriction onU.S. pork violates fundamental principles in the WTO SPS Agreement, requiring that such measures be based on science and legitimate human or animal health concerns. It also violates the national treatment principle contained in Article 2.3 of the SPS Agreement, which states in part that SPS measures should not “arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between Members where identical or similar conditions exist.” Australia is the only country in the world that imposes a PMWS-related restriction on U.S. pork and pork products. Other countries, as well as the OIE, recognize that trade in pork products does not present a risk of transmission of PMWS. Australia’s PMWS-related restriction on U.S. pork should be eliminated.
Why Does it Matter to our Producers
Pork is the largest U.S. agricultural export to Australia, with sales surging from 3,400 metric tons in 2004, the year before the U.S.-Australia FTA went into effect, to 70,984 metric tons valued at $208 million in 2017. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, U.S. pork exports would increase significantly if Australia eliminated its unjustified restrictions.
What's NPPC's Position?
Australia has a partial ban on U.S. pork, prohibiting it from being sold at retail and imposing other non-science-based restrictions. The impediments should be eliminated.